Trio of Falcons, Rebels' Lee look for CIF success

GLENDALE — Competing in difficult head-to-head matchups in their respective leagues is one thing. Now, four local high school girls' tennis players are about to find out exactly how battle-tested they are.

Erin LeVoir, Sarah Ali and Karen Ataian of Crescenta Valley and Flintridge Prep's Kira Lee have proven to be elite players in the area.

They will look for that trend to continue when the quartet participates in the CIF Individuals Tournament, which will begin Friday at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte.

Three rounds will take place Friday at several locations around the region. The singles competition will start at 9 a.m., while the doubles action will start around 9:30.

Each of the participants will arrive at the venue not knowing who they will face until 30 minutes before first serve in their opening-round matches.

Those getting through today's rounds will then advance to the round of 16 and quarterfinals, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 2 at Seal Beach Tennis Center. The semifinals and finals will occur at 11 a.m. Dec. 3 in Seal Beach.

Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Sarah Wiggins and Flintridge Prep second-year Coach Ron Catano said their players are ready to take on all challenges from top-notch players from around the region.

"I have high hopes for all of my players," said Wiggins, whose team placed second in the Pacific League and advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs. "They have a lot of potential to get far."

Ali spent the entire regular season in doubles, largely due to an injury, while Ataian worked in singles. Wiggins decided to pair them up at the league tournament at Pasadena High when Ali's regular partner, Talia Moradkhanian, could not attend..

The decision paid dividends as the duo earned the top seed and won the league championship on Nov. 3.

"With Sarah and Karen, they realize the fact that they are in position to meet up with some pretty tough teams," Wiggins said. "They are both used to making big shots."

LeVoir, a senior and a reigning All-Area pick, advanced to the league's singles final on Nov. 3 to earn a spot in today's event.

"She's a veteran and you know she will be more competitive and will have more fun," Wiggins said. "She did well in league and my hope is that she continues to play at that caliber."

Lee, a junior and the reigning All-Area Singles Player of the Year, will make her third appearance in the tournament. Lee (58-0) will enter today's competition with plenty of momentum, having swept her three sets in a 12-6 loss to top-seeded Newport Harbor on Saturday in a Division II second-round contest.

Lee was eliminated in the first round in 2008 before advancing to the second round last season.

Catano, whose team took third in the Prep League, said Lee hasn't forgotten about her past experiences.

"She seemed fine last year and then she just got a little overpowered," Catano said. "It was hard for her to get the ball back.

"She hasn't lost yet this year and I imagine her confidence is shooting right through the roof. I don't think it matters to her who she will be playing. She's seen all types of players and it's going to take a good player to beat her. Kira is playing at such a high level right now."

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