NORTHWEST GLENDALE — With the strength of the Crescenta Valley High and Arcadia girls' tennis teams, the rest of the Pacific League squads have resigned themselves to playing for third place this season.
However, there are four teams — Burbank, Burroughs, Hoover and Glendale — all vying for that third spot.
That made Thursday's league matchup between the Bulldogs and Tornadoes an important measuring stick as to which squad would start to emerge as the front-runner for that all-important placement.
Burbank made its claim, winning eight of nine singles sets to earn a 13-5 victory against host Hoover.
"This was a very important match for these two teams," said Burbank Coach Loi Phan, whose squad improved to 5-4, 3-2 in league. "We figured that since Hoover beat Glendale in games and we beat Burroughs, that the winner today would be the early favorite for third place. We needed to win this one."
It was obvious early on that Burbank was just too strong for Hoover (3-6, 2-3). That was evident after the first of three rounds, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
"I think that Burbank is the more talented team," Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said. "But we have a team that never gives up, and they are out there fighting for every point. They have also improved this season. I tell the girls that if you get beat by a better team, that's nothing to be ashamed of. But we won't go out there and just roll over and not put up a fight."
Heading into the match, Phan said that he estimated that his group would have to win six or seven sets in singles to come away with the win. The Bulldogs exceeded his expectations, dropping just one.
"The singles had to be on today," said Phan, whose squad placed fourth in league last season. "We knew we needed them to play well."
Those singles helped Burbank enjoy a 10-2 advantage after the second round.
Leading the singles charge was No. 1 Meredy Gharabegi, who swept, 6-3, 6-0, 6-1. Also earning a sweep at No. 2 was Ashley Basco, who had to battle to notch 7-5, 7-6 (7-1), 6-0 wins. At No. 3, Elizabeth Sanchez went, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Burbank was also able to get two set wins from its No. 2 doubles team, as Gaby Markari and Brianne Waller went 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. At No. 1, Veronica Mendoza and Miyon Kim went 4-6, 6-0 before Mendoza gave way to Alexi Fumani and the duo earned a 6-2 victory. The team of Gaby Schnaid and Dana Gibson won one, 6-2.
Despite the loss, Hoover received a steady performance from its No. 1 doubles team of Kristine Adzhemyan and Diana Karapetyan, 6-4, 6-3, 6-0.
The other Tornadoes' wins came via No. 1 singles Meg Movradian, 6-1, and the No. 2 doubles team of Annie Lee and Karmela Castro, 6-1.