Singles lead to Knight victory

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Embattled in a mini slump, John Kazanjian looked to break out of it to get himself and his team back on track.

The St. Francis High No. 1 singles tennis player came through and his teammates followed suit en route to a 13-5 Mission League home victory against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Thursday afternoon at Fremont Tennis Center.

"I was on a bit of a losing streak and I was a little nervous [coming into Thursday]," said Kazanjian, who swept, 6-0, 6-0, 6-3. "It turned out to be a pretty good day for our team.

"We needed a win to keep our spirits up."

St. Francis (4-4, 2-2 in league) also got a sweep in singles from Kristian Esteve (7-5, 6-4, 7-5). Notre Dame dropped to 2-5, 1-3.

In St. Francis' last two league matches — losses against Chaminade and Loyola — Kazanjian managed to win just one set. Kazanjian said he took it upon himself to get things straightened out.

"I went out there and was able to play at my speed," Kazanjian said. "If I'm going up against a tough player, then I need to pick up my pace, and sometimes I'm able to slow it down.

"I felt like I had something to prove in winning all three sets. We were able to win the close sets and you need all the points you can possibly get."

St. Francis won five sets by two games, including a 7-6(8-6) doubles victory from Darren Kunitake and Daniel Ishmael in the first round. St. Francis raced to a 5-1 lead after the first round.

St. Francis Coach Ron Zambrano said his team appeared fatigued from playing its third match in six days.

"They are tired, but I'm glad we were able to win," Zambrano said. "It wasn't easy and there were a lot of hard sets taking place.

"We put up some big numbers and this can be a confidence booster for them."

Alex Kevakian picked up a 7-5 singles victory for St. Francis.

St. Francis' No. 1 doubles team of Christopher Grosvenor and Robert O'Brien swept their three sets, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1. Eugene Kim and Alfred Lee teamed up for a 6-2 victory for St. Francis. Kim then worked with substitute Eric Abramian to earn a 7-5 victory to give St. Francis a 10-3 advantage.

Notre Dame received 6-2, 6-3 doubles victories from James Estavillo and Rory Barnett.

St. Francis will next participate in another league match against host Crespi at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Braemar Country Club. It will then return to action April 16 against visiting Harvard-Westlake at Fremont Tennis Center, followed by home league contests against Chaminade on April 17 and Loyola on April 19.

"We have a tough road ahead of us, but we have lots of time to practice," Zambrano said. "It will be interesting to see where we are with the long layoff between our next two matches."

St. Francis will meet Notre Dame on April 24 at Braemar.

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