One second and a pair of thirds for Burbank, Crescenta Valley girls' tennis at league tourney

PASADENA — Arcadia High showed its dominance at the Pacific League tournament, earning five of eight spots in the semifinals.

However, a doubles team and a lone player from Crescenta Valley, along with a doubles duo from Burbank, were attempting to loosen the Apaches’ stranglehold in the second day of the tournament Wednesday at Pasadena High.

Unfortunately, none of the locals were able to capture league championships, and only the Bulldogs doubles squad was able to advance to the finals, as Arcadia notched wins in both title contests.

Making it to the doubles final was Burbank’s Ashley Basco and Meredy Gharabegi. It was the duo’s second straight appearance in the championship match and third straight year in the semifinals, falling short of a title on all three occasions.

The pair, which was seeded third, opened the day with a 6-3, 4-6, 10-6 victory over the No. 2-seeded Arcadia team of Ashley Gao and Tiffany Hsieh. After trailing by four in the tiebreaker, the Apaches came back and were down by just one, 6-5. But the Bulldogs withstood the charge and outscored their opponents, 4-1, to win the match.

In the final, Basco and Gharabegi faced Arcadia’s No.-1 seeded duo of Elizabeth Leu and Annie Tung. The Bulldogs were up in the first set, 2-1, before things went south. The Apaches picked up the pace and went 5-1 the rest of the way to put pressure on Burbank.

Basco and Gharabegi played better in the second set, coming back from a 2-1 disadvantage to lead, 5-2. The Bulldogs then had set-point at 5-3, but couldn’t close it out. The pair had two set-points at 5-4, but Leu and Tung kept battling, eventually forcing a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, the Bulldogs tied the score at 1 before the Apaches rattled off six straight to win the championship.

“It really did hurt to not close them [out],” Basco said. “But I always thought that we would be able to come back and still win it.”

In the other doubles semifinal, No. 5-seeded Viktoriya Shumakova and Jacqueline Dilanchyan of Crescenta Valley couldn’t get past Leu and Tung, falling, 6-3, 6-1.

In the third-place match, it looked as if the Falcons would go down to another defeat, as they trailed, 7-5, and were one game away from elimination. But Shumakova and Dilanchyan than embarked on a torrid comeback, winning four straight games to capture the match, 9-7, and finish third.

“When we were down, we just kept telling each other to get the ball in and try to win points,” Shumakova said. “After a certain part of the match, it was just a matter of taking baby steps for us to get back into it.”

The only singles player to advance to the second day of the tourney was Crescenta Valley’s Alexa Grigorian, who was the No. 4 seed. But she ran into a buzz saw in No. 1 Francis Dean of Arcadia, the defending champion who went on to win her second straight title Wednesday. Although Grigorian played better in the second set, she still suffered a 6-1, 6-1 defeat.

While Grigorian waited to see who her opponent would be in the third-place match, Arcadia’s Angelica Zhou (No. 2) and Sharlene Song (No. 3) battled in a match that took more than two hours. Zhou finally prevailed, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 10-5, leaving Song to face Grigorian.

But Grigorian never got a chance to take the court, as Song retired, giving the Falcon an 8-0 victory and a third-place medal.

“I actually wanted to play, I’m not going to lie,” Gregorian said. “I was kind of surprised that she wasn’t playing, but I’m also happy that I didn’t have to go out and play.”

Only the top two singles players and doubles teams qualify for the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament on Nov. 19 at a site to be determined. The team of Basco and Gharabegi will be the lone area representative, though the third-place finishers will be CIF alternates.

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