New coach, same mission

GLENDALE — Though there will be a new coach on board, the concept will remain the same for the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' tennis team.

After taking over the program in 1995 and leading the Falcons to nine Pacific League championships, veteran Coach Tom Gossard retired following last season. Gossard's squads finished no worse than second in league, leading to instant respectability in the area and region.

Now, Sarah Wiggins, Gossard's successor, will look to uphold the tradition.

"It's always a challenge to make sure you keep moving the program forward." said Wiggins, who is also the school's boys' coach. "I'm a different style coach than Tom.

"There are going to be some things that I want to do differently. We will have some new players, but I think we will have a strong team."

Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Flintridge Prep qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs last season. Hoover and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy didn't advance to the postseason last year and will seek immediate improvements with their respective personnel to reverse course.

The Falcons should have a good mix of talent and depth to challenge for the league championship with Arcadia, which won it last season after the Falcons went undefeated in league action in 2007 and 2008. Crescenta Valley will have senior Erin LeVoir, a former All-Area Singles Player of the Year, back in the fold. She will be joined by senior Sarah Ali, who didn't play last season and is a former All-Area Singles Player of the Year, as well.

Wiggins said LeVoir and Ali will be counted on to provide leadership and experience for the younger Falcons.

"We hope to have a cohesive group," Wiggins said. "Having Erin and Sarah around will help.

"Erin is a top-notch player and Sarah carries herself professionally and we look forward to them being strong leaders."

Glendale lost its top doubles team of Sevana Zargarian and Samantha Sismundo to graduation. The duo teamed up to win the Pacific League doubles championship the past two seasons and proved to be gigantic pillars in the Nitros' lineup.

With Zargarian and Sismundo gone, Glendale Coach Bob Davidson is left searching for a new top-notch doubles team.

"They were very successful and our team leaders," Davidson said. "It's definitely going to be a year where we are going to rely on our younger players and those who we have coming up from the JV team.

"Sometimes you have to rely on the program and hope for the best."

The Nitros will return senior singles player Adrine Babakhanyan, who was an All-Area doubles player last season. Also expected back will be seniors Tatevik Hovannisyan, Hana Jang and Mariam Khachtryan, who might provide Davidson with some depth at singles or doubles.

Davidson said the Pacific League will be a challenge.

"Looking at the league, CV will be very good with Erin and Sarah Ali coming back and Arcadia will always be tough," Davidson said. "The rest of the league will probably be pretty close.

"Hoover, Burroughs, Burbank and us will be fighting it out for third and fourth place and to get into the playoffs. For us, the returners are going to have to step it up a notch and the people new to the team will need to step up and contribute in the beginning."

Flintridge Prep will have the main core of its young lineup returning. The Rebels will turn to junior Kira Lee, who went 51-5 last season and was named the All-Area Singles Player of the Year.

Flintridge Prep will also return sophomore Jenise Vargas, a reigning All-Area singles player who went 50-6 last season. Lee and Vargas will be joined by sophomore doubles player Abby Letts and seniors Ali Preiss and Lugene El-Harizi.

Flintridge Prep Coach Ron Catano said the Rebels will seek a Prep League championship.

"We are pretty confident we can win league," Catano said. "A lot of the other teams in our league lost some of their top players to graduation.

"I like our mix and it might be the most talented team we have had. We want them to be confident during the matches and we have a lot of talent and experience to help us pull out some of our matches."

Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said the Tornadoes chief goal will be to occupy another spot in the Pacific League beside the basement. Depth at doubles might allow them to rise.

Hoover's top doubles team might consist of senior Zar Chavdarian and sophomore Diana Karapetyan. The main singles players figure to be junior Meg Mooradian and freshman Arpe Bagumyan.

"Hopefully, we get our doubles teams to be competitive and I think we will be decent in singles against teams that we have more parity with," Hoppe said.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy will once again have to deal with playing in the ultra-competitive Mission League. Tolog second-year Coach John Robb said he might have the personnel to move up in the league standings from fifth place.

"The goal will be to take it a step further," Robb said. "We want to play solid again against Alemany, jump over Louisville and try to be more competitive against Notre Dame.

"Last year, we were a little top heavy. Now, we are a lot more balanced throughout the lineup."

Flintridge Sacred Heart's top players figure to be junior Emily Katz in singles or doubles and seniors Clarisse Aoanan, Monique Lind and Katie Thomson in doubles.

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