Racket at the office

Most offices have four walls. For Alex Sarkissian, the dimensions of his outdoor workspace are vastly different and always open for business.

Sarkissian's office measures 27 feet by 78 and features a net, multiple baselines and doubles alleys. It's the place where Sarkissian, a member of the Glendale Community College men's tennis team, is most comfortable serving, volleying and lobbing at practice or in a match.

He's been consistent at channeling his focus to wear down opponents to the tune of remaining undefeated. The No. 1 singles player has controlled the atmosphere on the court for Glendale college. He's not leery of attacking the net or staying back on the baseline with the goal of winning a valuable point.

"I just go out there and don't think about any kind of distraction," said Sarkissian, a first-year player at Glendale college. "That's why the court is like my office because I go out there and do a job and then I come off."

The Vaqueros (8-6, 4-1 in conference) have benefitted from Sarkissian's presence. Entering today's conference road match against L.A. Pierce College, Sarkissian is 14-0 in singles, winning all 28 sets. In doubles competition, Sarkissian and partner Trevor Campbell are 11-2.

Things have come along smoothly for Sarkissian, who attended La Crescenta's Verdugo Academy, one of three alternative education programs in the Glendale Unified School District, and then competed in Futures Tournaments across the United States, Mexico and South America. Sarkissian enrolled at Glendale college last year, but didn't play tennis for the Vaqueros.

Sarkissian said he needed a break from playing in the rigorous tournaments and inquired about joining the Vaqueros. Veteran Glendale Coach Bob MacKay immediately found a spot on the team and in the lineup for the soft-spoken Sarkissian, who spent the past several years training at the Burbank Tennis Center under instructor Federico Browne.

"I just needed a break last year, but I knew in my heart that I wanted to play here at Glendale college," Sarkissian said. "Bob encouraged me to play and said it would be a fun experience.

"I knew some of the other players, like Trevor, and I knew that there was a possibility that we ¿could have a very good team."

MacKay, who took over the program in 2003, didn't hesitate putting Sarkissian in the No. 1 slot in singles and doubles.

"I'd recruited him for two years, but he wanted to play in different tournaments and then take a year off," MacKay said. "My job was to get him to play at GCC, and I can recruit well enough to the idea that I thought I could get him to come here.

"Everybody wants a piece of Alex. He's always going to get a good effort from his opponent. He and Trevor have been playing great tennis, but we feel like we have a chance against everybody we play with Alex in our lineup. I've told Alex before that we need the two points."

He's taken on many of the best players around Southern California, affording MacKay the luxury of putting Sarkissian up as a candidate for a prestigious state accolade.

Sarkissian was named the Male Athlete of the Month for February by the California Community College Athletic Assn. Sarkissian finished 7-0 in singles matches in February. He also teamed with Campbell to go 5-1 in doubles for the month. Sarkissian finished 14-0 in singles sets, winning 10 of them by 6-0 scores. He bested preseason No. 2 singles player Oliver Andrzejenr of Cypress College, 6-2, 6-4, and topped No. 8 player¿ Nikoliv Ivanov of Santa Barbara City College, 7-6, 6-0.

"That was real cool to have that happen," Sarkissian said. "I've been ranked before in Futures, but this is something that's even better because I'm part of the college and you get noticed more.

"I've never had teammates before. I'm happy that I could win that honor and it's boosted my confidence that much more.

"It's fun especially when I can play with Trevor because we play a pretty similar game. It took some time to figure each other out and then we were able to get better. We've clicked."

Campbell, a Burroughs High graduate and a former All-Area honoree, said he's continued to learn from playing alongside Sarkissian.

"He's a wonderful guy and just a solid player," Campbell said. "I just love playing with him.

"He's got so much confidence and he's very relaxed. I just try to learn from him by watching him play. He'll be able to go out there in doubles and take charge by attacking the net. He's not hesitant."

Though he's piled up plenty of victories for the Vaqueros, Sarkissian said there's always room for him to grow on the court. The Vaqueros still have several more difficult conference matches left, including one against visiting Ventura College, which won the conference crown last season, on Thursday.

In addition, Sarkissian will likely participate in the prestigious Ojai Invitational in April and then compete in the conference tournament with the goal of qualifying for the state tournament in Fresno.

"I've been playing some of my best tennis of late," said Sarkissian, who will seek the opportunity of extending his collegiate career at a four-year institution. "I just go out there and try to mix it up with my volleys.

"I think I have that real good 1-2 punch of serving and hitting forehand shots. I've reached the level where I feel fine mentally and physically. I just try to keep cool because that's when I play my best tennis."

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