Rebels pull Nitros' card

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The Flintridge Prep girls' tennis team is likely to go as far in the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs as it singles players can take it, but the kind of overall balance the Rebels displayed in Tuesday's 11-7 wild-card win over Glendale at Scholl Canyon Park can only help extend the journey.

While the Rebels' starting singles contingent was dominant enough to win all but one of its seven sets, Prep's doubles provided more than adequate support with five wins.

"We came on strong, we were all really pumped," said Rebels No. 1 singles Kira Lee, who swept two sets before being subbed out in the third round. "All of us were just in the right mindset, so we came out there and did our best and it paid off."

Prep Coach Ron Catano said he decided to make his singles even more powerful by supplementing Lee and No. 2 standout Jenise Vargas, who also swept her two sets on Tuesday, with Ali Preiss, who was part of a doubles team during the regular season, in the No. 3 slot. The move paid off, with Preiss winning two out of three sets, 6-2, 6-0, and the change will remain in place when the Rebels (14-4) face host Mission Viejo in the first round at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

"I'm just going to go with the strongest singles players right now," said Catano, whose team finished third in the Prep League this season. "[Preiss'] game just raises when she plays singles because it's more natural for her."

Glendale Coach Bob Davidson said he knew Prep's singles would be difficult for his team to match up with.

"They're very strong in singles," said Davidson, who got one win apiece in singles from Adrine Babakhanyan, Tatevik Hohannisyan and Eugenia Bagdasarian. "That's a tough matchup for us because we're inexperienced in singles and we have been all year. …That's something we just don't have an answer to."

The Nitros (6-9) were more competitive in doubles, as Hana Jang and Mariam Khachtryan won a pair of sets, 6-1, 6-3, and Arpi Arutyunyan and Emily Levin also won two, 6-0, 6-1.

But Prep's No. 1 doubles team Abby Letts and Young In-Kim won their two sets, 6-2, 6-0, and No. 3 Devin Weakland and Lucy Wagner won two of their three, 6-1, 6-3, while Isabella Weiss and Reya Ghessari turned in a 6-1 win to give the Rebels the edge in doubles, as well.

Glendale finished third in the Pacific League after going 6-6.

"I'm pleased with how we did [this season]," Davidson said. "We had only four girls back from last year's team and we've improved all year in singles and I think our doubles have been as good as they can do all year. That's all I can ask for."

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