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Crescenta Valley's Muradoglu falls in Pacific League tennis final

Crescenta Valley's Muradoglu falls in Pacific League tennis final
Melissa Rosa Muradoglu of Crescenta Valley High advanced to the singles championship of the Pacific League Tournament. (Tim Berger \ Staff Photographer)

BURBANK — Melissa Rosa Muradoglu saw her bid to win her first Pacific League singles championship come up short, though the Crescenta Valley High girls’ tennis player took an immediate positive from her experience.

Muradoglu was one of four area players competing in the final two rounds of the tournament Wednesday at Burroughs High.

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The third-seeded Muradoglu turned in an impressive run in the two-day tournament that ended with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat against No. 1 Rachelle Yang of Arcadia. Muradoglu earlier recorded a 6-0, 6-0 semifinal win versus No. 2 Christina Yao of Arcadia.

Also in singles, No. 4 Celine Khachiki of Glendale fell, 6-0, 6-1 to Yang in a semifinal match before suffering an 8-4 defeat to Yao in the third-place contest. In doubles, the Burbank tandem of Kristina Kirakosyan and Johana Faraj, the No. 3 seed, lost to No. 2 Angela Qiu and Sunny Ng of Arcadia, 7-5, 6-2, in a semifinal contest. Kirakosyan and Faraj forfeited the third-place match after Kirakosyan suffered an injury in the semifinal match.

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Top-seeded Michelle Deng and Lauren Ko of Arcadia defeated Qiu and Ng, 6-1, 6-2, to capture their third straight league title. The duo, which has won two straight CIF Southern Section championships, posted a 6-1, 6-1 win versus No. 4 Francesca Yao and Angel Pan in a semifinal tilt.

Muradoglu, who helped Crescenta Valley advance to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship match last season, rolled past Yao before meeting Yang, who had won two straight league championships.

Unfortunately for Muradoglu, she couldn’t stop the Fordham University-bound Yang.

“It was a nice experience to get this far after just getting to the second round last year,” said Muradoglu, who automatically advanced to the CIF Individual Tournament in November. “I still have a lot of room for improvement.

“My opponent played better than me. I gained a lot of experience and that will help me going forward. I have a better idea now of what to expect in the playoffs.”

Khachiki, who helped Glendale win the Division IV crown last season, made her first appearance in the semifinals.

After falling to Yang, Khachiki stayed close early with Yao in the third-place match. Khachiki and Yao were tied at 2 before Yao pulled away.

“It helps when you can go out there and go up against real good players,” Khachiki said. “You just try to improve.

“Rachelle is a really great player and she made some really amazing shots.”

Kirakosyan and Faraj entered Wednesday’s semifinal match armed with confidence. The duo jumped out to a 4-3 win in the first set before things went off track.

Kirakosyan went to return a shot down the left side before stumbling and falling to the court. She appeared to injure her left arm and suffered a scrape on her leg. Kirakosyan sat on the court for a few minutes while being checked by Burbank coach Loi Phan.

Kirakosyan and Faraj won the game to take a 5-3 lead before Qiu and Ng rallied back to take the first set and ultimately complete the sweep.

Kirakosyan and Faraj both competed in singles during the regular season before being shifted to doubles for the tournament. Kirakosyan advanced to the semifinals last season in singles and Faraj reached her fourth consecutive appearance in the semifinals.

“Kristina went to the corner and tried to return a shot,” Faraj said. “We were doing really well at that point.

“Kristina is such a great player. The injury just slowed her down. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play together in the playoffs.”

Phan said he didn’t want to risk Kirakosyan to any further injury.

“It’s the right move to forfeit [the third-place match],” Phan said. “We have the playoffs next week and we want to have her ready to play.”

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