GLENDALE — It had been a thrilling ride, but the round of 16 in the CIF Individuals Tournament proved to be the end of the line for the Crescenta Valley High doubles team of senior Sarah Ali and sophomore Karen Ataian.
The unseeded Falcons duo was stopped short of the quarterfinals by third-seeded Savannah Ware and Alison Ho out of Thousand Oaks, 6-1, 6-1, at Seal Beach Tennis Center on Thursday.
"They were good players and they definitely started off quickly," Ali said of her and Ataian's competition. "Our rhythm and timing was totally off. It just wasn't our day."
Ali and Ataian, whose partnership began in early November in the Pacific League tournament, where they captured the title, didn't learn of their first-round draw until less than a half hour before the match, as is customary. They immediately knew it would be an arduous challenge.
"We were hoping not [to draw the No. 3 seed]," Crescenta Valley Coach Sarah Wiggins said. "I think they were one of the favored teams, so obviously we were hoping for an easier first round."
Ware and Ho came out blazing, as Ali and Ataian, who defeated Sandra Poledo and Rachelle Tacsuan out of Lakewood St. Joseph's, 6-2, 6-1, in the third round on Nov. 19 to qualify for the round of 16, struggled to keep up.
"We came out a little flat and they came out playing really sharp," Wiggins said. "They were very strong at the net, they did a lot of damage with their shots and it just took us a while to get going. The longer we could make the points last, the better chance we had and we started to establish a little bit of rhythm, and there were quite a few deuce points.
"They fought a little harder, they were just sharper than we were."
Ali, a former singles standout who played doubles this season, and Ataian, a first-year varsity player with no doubles experience prior to the league tournament, finished the season 7-1.
"To take two singles players who haven't played together before and put them in such a tight match," Wiggins said, "the fact they made it here, they did a great job."