Falcons look to maintain league success

Don't pity the Crescenta Valley High girls' tennis team for losing three of its key players to graduation. There's still plenty of talent coming through the pipeline to keep the Falcons in contention for the Pacific League championship.

Gone are Erin LeVoir, Sarah Ali and Talia Moradkhian, who helped the Falcons finish either first or second in league during the last four seasons. The newest cast will look to keep the tradition going in the Falcons' quest to win their 10th league title since 1995.

Ali and Moradkhian were tabbed as the All-Area Girls' Doubles Team of the Year after going 38-1 last season. LeVoir, a former All-Area Singles Player of the Year, went 48-9 and 36-4 in league en route to receiving All-Area recognition.

"When you lose people like that, it's tough," Crescenta Valley Coach Sarah Wiggins said. "I don't think we have as much depth, but we have some good players in place.

"The goal is the same and that's for them to have a purpose for every shot and be aggressive."

The Falcons will return senior Emily Borkowski, along with juniors Karen Ataian and Viktoriya Shumakova and sophomore Jackie Dilanchyan. All will be counted on by Wiggins to help the Falcons battle with defending league champion and main rival Arcadia for first place.

Ataian stepped up in singles last season, going 41-7. She later teamed with Ali to win the league's doubles championship before the two marched to the round of 16 at the CIF Individuals Tournament.

Borkowski, Shumakova and Dilanchyan will look to improve on last season's success, as the trio might see time at doubles.

"A lot will depend on how well we do in doubles," Wiggins said. "We'll have to get the players to strategize a little better.

"They are eager to learn and perform."

Crescenta Valley will also have the senior doubles team of Amanda Lockwood and Sally Jo back, and the players will be counted on to provide the Falcons with leadership. Senior doubles player Sydney Farzadkish also returns for Crescenta Valley.

Flintridge Prep returns top singles players Kira Lee and Jenise Vargas. The Rebels placed third in the Prep League last season, but saw Lee and Vargas have their customary stellar seasons.

Lee, the two-time reigning All-Area Singles Player of the Year, went 30-0 in the regular season and was named the league's most valuable player. She also reached the round of 32 at the individuals competition for the first time.

Vargas finished 57-3, including going 29-1 in league and 5-1 in six postseason sets.

Flintridge Prep Coach Ron Catano will again look to the duo to carry the Rebels, who will bring back their top doubles team of Abby Letts and Young-In Kim, who went 28-5 and earned All-Area recognition last season.

"They are two very talented players and you know they will go out there and battle," said Catano, who was named All-Area Coach of the year last season. "We will have a great lineup in singles.

"We expect to go after the league championship. Once we get to playing matches, we'll have a better feel for what they can do."

After making the playoffs last season, Glendale looks to be in rebuilding mode. The Nitros return only three starters in senior singles player Eugenia Badgdassarian and doubles players Rochelle Lingat and Celicia McLean.

Glendale will also have senior Angie Santago, junior Emily Levin and freshman Veronika Galstyan. All three can play singles and Santago and Galstyan might see time at doubles for Coach Bob Davidson.

"For us to be competitive and try to get the fourth spot in league, we are going to have to improve," Davidson said. "We don't have a lot of experience.

"At this point, we just have to work hard and be as competitive as we can be."

Hoover arrived at the doorstep of qualifying for the playoffs last season. Although, it beat Burbank in the final Pacific League match of the season, it fell short of advancing to the postseason.

The Tornadoes were eliminated from playoff contention as they lost on sets won against Burbank in two head-to-head meetings.

Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said she's eager to see how the Tornadoes regroup.

"I think they'll come back excited and motivated," said Hoppe, who was named the All-Area Boys' Coach of the Year last season after leading the Tornadoes to the playoffs. "We feel like we have the pieces to try to get that fourth spot in league."

Hoover will have a lineup featuring senior singles player Meghedi Mooradian and junior singles athlete Kristine Adzheman. They will be joined by senior doubles players Karmela Castro and Annie Lee and junior doubles player Diana Karapetyan.

Flintridge Sacred Heart will have Coach Ron Zambrano back. Zambrano returns for the first time since 2008 and will be in his 11th year.

With the Tologs expected to rebuild, Zambrano will look to piece together talent with the goal of moving up in the Mission League. Flintridge Sacred Heart will bring back senior singles players Emily Katz and Elizabeth Williamson.

"We've had some good practices and it's OK to start building for the future," Zambrano said. "We are looking forward to rebuilding and, whether we win or lose, we want to be proud of what we do."

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