Doubles could be the key as season nears

GLENDALE — For the five local high school boys' tennis coaches, a good portion of their attention will be geared toward how their doubles teams fare.

With the season set to begin next week, the consensus among the coaches is that it might be the difference between being in line to win a league championship and contending for the CIF playoffs.

"The strength will be doubles for us and we have all six of our doubles players coming back," said 23rd-year Glendale Coach Bob Davidson, whose team qualified for the playoffs last season. "It's one of the best doubles groups I've had since I've been here."

Leading the way for the Nitros in doubles will be the senior tandem of Jeff Asano and Elliot Kim, who have advanced to the Pacific League finals the past two seasons and earned All-Area accolades. Asano and Kim will be counted on to provide the Nitros an opportunity to battle for a postseason berth in a league that appears to be wide open.

Davidson also didn't rule out the duo making their third straight trip to the league final.

"They've been playing well together for the past two years," said Davidson, who will also return doubles players Rene Glandian and Sam Sarian and Alex Levin and Edgar Hakobyan and singles players Jon Azizian and Mike Unanian. "It will be a challenge again for Jeff and Elliot and it will be fun to see how it works out for them."

At Crescenta Valley, Coach Sarah Wiggins said the Falcons picking up wins in doubles will be crucial in their quest to return to the playoffs for a second straight season.

Crescenta Valley's top doubles team will be Jeremy Cho and Tim Chong. While Wiggins hasn't formed any permanent doubles combinations after Cho and Chong, the first couple of weeks of the season will give her a better idea of what lineup combinations to put together.

One might be Daniel Suh with Justin Chung.

"We have to be able to find the right combinations in doubles that can give us a chance in our matches," Wiggins said. "It's nice to have a team of Jeremy and Tim."

Hoover will look to improve and make a push for the postseason. The Tornadoes are relatively young, but do possess a steady singles lineup that will include Ron Glandian, Oleg Simonyan and Ejmin Mehranian, who secured a spot on the All-Area team last season.

Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said the Tornadoes have some potentially strong doubles athletes, including Yeprem Chavdarian, Sage Barry and Emile Ohanian.

"We have better doubles teams this season than in the past," Hoppe said. "They can support our singles players better and it gives us a chance to win some of those close matches at 10-8 or 9-9 on games.

"If that happens, then maybe we have a shot at the playoffs."

Flintridge Prep, which also appeared in the playoffs last season, will look to get back to the top of the Prep League. The Rebels finished tied for second last season after sharing the league championship with Webb in 2009.

The Rebels will feature a top doubles team of Kent Byun and Eric Kazangian to go along with a solid nucleus of singles players that will include Alex Wood and Albert Lee.

"We have the depth in singles and in doubles," Flintridge Prep Coach Ron Catano said. "That will be helpful for us in league because a lot of the other teams in our league have lost key players.

"I think our returners will be fine because they are experienced. The ones who didn't play much last year have also gotten better. A lot of our guys are also stronger mentally."

St. Francis didn't qualify for the playoffs last season, but Coach Ron Zambrano isn't going to dwell on the past. Zambrano will look to get the Golden Knights back on track — this season and beyond.

Zambrano said the Golden Knights figure to have a stable lineup intact to challenge for third place in the Mission League behind teams like Chaminade and Harvard-Westlake. Among those Zambrano will pencil in the lineup are a doubles team featuring Daniel Gong and Gregory Pak and singles player John Kazanjian.

"I like our team, now and in the future," Zambrano said. "We know that the Mission League will be tough, but we have some good players and we think we can fight for a playoff spot."

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