Falcons turned back by Apaches on the road

ARCADIA — For the past 15 years, the Crescenta Valley High and Arcadia girls' tennis teams have dominated in the Pacific League with the squads having won or shared the league title in that entire stretch.

With the teams once again featuring stacked lineups and a wealth of experience, many of the league's coaches predicted before the season began that the trend would continue this year. Crescenta Valley and Arcadia squared off Thursday afternoon in the first of two head-to-head meetings.

Arcadia had a bit more experience in doubles and used it to its advantage in an 11-7 home victory against its main rival.

The Apaches (4-0, 1-0 in league) won six doubles sets to turn aside the Falcons, and, in the process, gained the upper hand for the time being in the hunt for their second league crown in a row. Crescenta Valley (1-1 in league) got its customary solid effort from senior singles player Erin LeVoir, who won a pair of sets (6-3, 6-1), and saw its doubles team of Sarah Ali and Talia Moradkhanian sweep their three sets.

"I expected a battle and that's what it turned out to be," Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Sarah Wiggins said. "We knew that it would be close and it easily could have been 9-9 and come down to games.

"Arcadia has always got good doubles teams. We also knew that they have two good singles players and I felt comfortable with my singles lineup."

Wiggins' plan to start senior Sarah Ali in singles hit a snag because Ali, a former All-Area Singles Player of the Year, said she's suffering from a shoulder injury. Wiggins opted to move Ali into doubles.

"It was either she could play three sets in doubles or one in singles," Wiggins said. "I had to change it and go for less stress on her [shoulder]."

Ali and Moradkhanian paired up and lost only three games. The duo would prove to be the lone bright spot for the Falcons, who began their season Tuesday with a 17-1 league home victory against Hoover, in doubles.

Ali said she didn't want to risk a long-term injury.

"I had to change to doubles," Ali said. "The injury affected my serve a bit.

"It was fun to get out there and we did our best. I expect another tough match the next time we play them."

Arcadia singles player Francis Dean swept her three sets, losing five games.

Arcadia Coach Jerry Dohling, whose team held a 7-5 lead entering the final round, said there's a challenge when competing against the Falcons.

"It's a great match and one which we knew would be tough," said Dohling, whose team won a tiebreaker in singles and doubles in the final round. "When they moved [Ali] into doubles, that eliminated three doubles sets for us, so we had to make that up in singles.

"Looking at the games and we were fortunate to win. We made some big shots at the end and the next time we play CV will be a great match."

Karen Ataian of Crescenta Valley also won two singles sets, 6-1, 6-0.

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