LA CRESCENTA — In a match with such magnitude, it almost undermines the final result when both coaches have a clear idea of how it’s going to play out.
But for Crescenta Valley High boys’ tennis Coach Sam Hyun and Burbank Coach Loi Phan, playing against each other’s respective teams for a second time in the Pacific League this season has given them a good idea about the other’s strengths and weaknesses.
And that knowledge proved accurate in Thursday afternoon’s match at Crescenta Valley, a match that could ultimately decide fourth place in the league standings.
The Falcons prevailed, 10-8, but for Phan, the tension ended long before Crescenta Valley’s Aren Abrahamia won, 6-4, against Shaheriyar Zahed to ultimately clinch the victory.
“When our No. 2 doubles lost to their No. 1, I knew it was over,” said Phan of the earlier set in which Patrick Meserkhani and Greg Manouchehri defeated Minas Badikyan and Keon Park. “I told the guys we needed to win four doubles sets and we won two.”
Badikyan and Park won both sets for the Bulldogs, as Crescenta Valley’s duos dominated for the most part to improve the team to 6-7 and 5-6 in league, just ahead of Burbank.
Meserkhani and Manouchehri swept, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5, Robert Lee and James Ho, along with Allen Chang and Jason Chang, each won two sets against Burbank’s No. 1 team of Reeve Bruner and Sebastian Borner and No. 3 duo of Jason Olah and Danny Kaidbey.
Lee and Ho didn’t give up a game in their two wins and Chang and Chan also won two sets.
Both coaches knew if the Falcons picked up seven wins in doubles, they would be in great position to win 10 sets and capture the match.
Despite Burbank’s overall dominance in singles play, Hyun and Phan expected the Falcons to have little trouble against Burbank’s No. 3 competitor.
Crescenta Valley’s Young Peak, Abrahamian and Edward Kim won a combined four games against Burbank’s No. 1, Clayton Pauff, and No. 2, Kevin Orellana, but were able to prevail in their respective third sets, 6-0, 6-4, 7-5.
Orellana swept his three sets and didn’t give up a game. Pauff wasn’t nearly as perfect, but still cruised to 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 wins.
Abrahamian needed to win his set or the Falcons would have lost in games.
“I knew it would be tied if I lost, but I wasn’t sure about the game situation,” Abrahamian said. “My approach was to keep the ball in, because he wasn’t able to keep up the rally as long.”
“Aren did a good job in an intense set,” Hyun said. “We knew we had to get seven in doubles and we knew we had to take their No. 3 singles. They did a good job.”
With the win, the Falcons are in fourth place in the Pacific League. Burbank hurt its chances to make the playoffs, and Phan said he will not bid for an at-large berth. Both teams have one match remaining, with the Falcons hosting Arcadia next week with Burbank closing the season against Hoover.
“If you can’t finish in the top four, then you don’t deserve to be in the playoffs,” Phan said. “I think it should be top three. Falcons played really well today and played better than us.”