BURBANK — With no way to shoehorn a nonleague match in to begin the season, the Hoover High boys' tennis team got a taste of what might be in store for what's expected to be a wide-open battle for one of the four available playoff spots out of the Pacific League.
The Tornadoes appeared on the doorstep of knocking off host Burbank on Tuesday afternoon in a league match. Instead, the Tornadoes fell in heartbreaking fashion.
Hoover lost the final set of the match against Burbank, which won 9-9 (82-81), in a season opener for each team.
Clayton Pauff, Burbank's No. 1 singles player, rallied for a 7-5 victory against Hoover No. 2 player Ron Glandian to give the Bulldogs the victory. Pauff broke serve to take a 6-5 lead before not yielding a point in the final game against Glandian, who Hoppe said appeared to be battling a hand injury.
"It was as good of a showing as we could have expected," said Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe, whose team was locked in a 6-6 tie entering the third round of the match. "It would have been nice to have won it by one game.
"We were very competitive and we had our chances. It's been really tough the last few years to start with league right out of the gate."
Hoover won seven singles sets, including three apiece from Oleg Simonyan (6-4, 6-0, 6-2) and Ejmin Mehranian (6-4, 6-2, 6-3). Glandian posted a 6-2 win, but suffered a 7-6 (7-2) loss to James Hong earlier.
The Tornadoes' No. 2 doubles team of Sage Barry and Emile Ohanian worked together for two wins, 7-5, 6-4.
"I see a lot of potential in our Nos. 2 and 3 doubles teams," said Hoppe, whose team didn't qualify for the playoffs last season. "Hopefully we can build on this match and we do have some things to work on."
The Bulldogs excelled in doubles competition, winning seven sets. Keon Park and Arthur Kubko worked together to sweep their sets, 6-1, 6-0, 6-4.
Hoover will compete in a league road match at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Crescenta Valley before hosting its first home match against Pasadena on Tuesday.