Karen Ataian and Andrea Kevakian proved to be among the elite singles players in their respective leagues throughout the regular season. Now, they want to prove they can fare well against some of the top competition that Southern California has to offer.
Ataian of Crescenta Valley High and Kevakian of Flintridge Prep will participate in the CIF Individuals Tournament, which will begin for them today at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center in South El Monte.
Three sectional rounds will take place today at several locations around the region. The singles competition will start at 9 a.m., while the doubles action will start around 9:30.
Each of the participants will arrive at the venue not knowing who they will face until 30 minutes before first serve in their opening-round matches.
Those getting through today's rounds will then advance to the round of 32, which will start at 1 p.m. Nov. 30 at Whittier Narrows. The round of 16 and quarterfinals will be held at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 1 at Seal Beach Tennis Center. The semifinals and finals will occur at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 2 in Seal Beach.
Ataian, a junior who won the Pacific League individual singles crown, is no stranger to the event. Last season, Ataian teamed with Sarah Ali in doubles and advanced to the round of 16.
"I just have to go there and play my game and don't worry about my opponents," said Ataian, a reigning All-Area singles player. "I'm getting better and I feel confident.
"It will be my first time in singles and I know there will be some tough draws. Playing singles instead of doubles is harder because you are on your own and you don't have your teammate helping you out."
Crescenta Valley Coach Sarah Wiggins, whose team finished second in league before reaching the CIF Southern Section Division II second round, said Ataian, who topped top-seeded Francis Dean of Arcadia in the league final, will be up to the challenge today.
"I think she's got the confidence from having won league," Wiggins said. "She has a good background and foundation.
"She's excellent with her stroke game. Hopefully, she will get a good draw. It's a good place to showcase your talents."
Kevakian handled herself well while competing in the Prep League. She will make her first appearance in the event, something she's ready to tackle.
The freshman went a combined 5-1 in six sets during the Division II playoffs, including sweeping all three sets against third-seeded Newport Harbor on Monday in a second-round match at Scholl Canyon Tennis Center.
"I think I can go in there and play well," Kevakian said. "No matter who I play, it's going to be somebody who is very good.
"I have to go in there and keep playing to the best of my ability."
Flintridge Prep Coach Ron Catano, whose team placed second in league, said Kevakian will be able to soak in the environment.
"Players like her don't come around that often [to Flintridge Prep]," Catano said. "Nothing seems to bother her.
"I think she will go out there and do very well."