LA CRESCENTA — While the end result of Crescenta Valley High's 10-8 loss to Arcadia in Tuesday afternoon's Pacific League girls' tennis match was a bit closer than the teams' prior meeting, it was the rivals' play in the early going that ultimately decided the outcome.
"We lost a couple of key sets in the first round, getting those first ones is big for momentum," said Falcons Coach Sarah Wiggins, whose team lost to Arcadia, 11-7, in the first meeting and was swept in the season series, essentially forgoing any aspirations for a league title bid. "This was a disappointing loss."
With both Arcadia (12-0, 7-0), the reigning league champion and fourth-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division II, and Crescenta Valley (8-2, 6-2) having defeated the rest of their league foes by lofty margins, it's a safe bet that the Apaches are in line to repeat. Hence the added disappointment for a Falcons squad that was hoping to force a tie for first place, but got off to a subpar start and paid for it.
Arcadia won four sets in the first round of play, taking a 4-2 lead that doubled to an 8-4 advantage after the second round and, for all intents and purposes, sealed the match's fate.
"It was obvious," said Wiggins of how the remainder of the match was likely to play out with the third round left.
From Wiggins' standpoint, the turning point came in the first round, particularly with a set apiece in singles and doubles.
Crescenta Valley's Jackie Dilanchyan, who was battling a knee injury, was up, 5-2, against Hazel Limfat, but Limfat rallied for a 7-5 victory. Also, despite winning two sets, 6-3, 6-0, the Falcons' No. 2 doubles squad of Emily Borkowski and Viktoriya Shumakova fell, 6-3, in the opening round in a set Wiggins felt was her team's for the taking.
"It was one that I felt we should've had," Wiggins said.
The Falcons' biggest highlight did come in the doubles bracket, however, as the No. 1 tandem of Sarah Ali and Talia Moradkhanian swept, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.
Along with the team's shaky overall start, overall play in singles also contributed mightily to the loss.
"Singles was the key," Wiggins said.
Arcadia took six of nine singles sets, with Crescenta Valley's Karen Ataian winning a pair of sets, 7-5, 6-0, while Erin Levoir, who had two wins in the teams' first meeting, had just one set victory this time around. Arcadia's Francis Dean swept again, losing just two games, both to Ataian.
Up next for Crescenta Valley is another arduous opponent in host Harvard-Westlake today before facing Glendale on Thursday.
"We can't take anything lightly," Wiggins said. "Yeah, we're disappointed with this loss, but we have to learn from this. We still have to go out there and continue to grow as a team."