Hoover High's Oleg Simonyan clinches CIF berth

PASADENA — Leave it to the Hoover High boys’ tennis team to break up a near Burbank city monopoly at Wednesday afternoon’s Pacific League boys’ tennis tournament finals.

While the Tornadoes walked away without clinching either a singles or doubles titles, Hoover’s Oleg Simonyan finished runner-up on the singles side and, in the process, earned advancement to the CIF Southern Section Boys Individual Tennis Tournament.

“I’m proud of the way both Oleg and Emile [Ohanyan] played,” Hoover Coach Julie Hoppe said. “They both ran into a strong player [in Burroughs’ sophomore Sawyer Patterson] and he played really well today. But I thought both guys gave him a battle.”

The singles championship match came down to a No. 1 versus No. 2 battle between the aforementioned Patterson and Simonyan.

In a true clash of styles, Patterson was victorious, 6-3, 6-4.

Patterson entered with a blistering serve and a powerful backhand, while Simonyan countered with a solid drop shot and a refined finesse game.

The differences were highlighted in a back-and-forth second set in which Simonyan took the opening game and each player rotated the lead until a tie at 4 was snapped by Patterson, who broke Simonyan’s serve and jumped ahead, 5-4, on a baseline winner.

Patterson then went up quickly, 30-0, in the next game before winning two possessions later on a cross-court smash.

“I wanted to do what I could to try to spread him out and use my slide and topspin,” said Simonyan, who defeated Burbank freshman Kevin Orellana, 6-2, 5-7, 10-2. “He hits the ball really hard and I tried to slow him down.”

Patterson showed elements of frustration, though, including when the sophomore chucked his racket into the wall after Simonyan closed a 4-1 first-set deficit to 4-3.

“He’s definitely the second-best player in this tournament,” Patterson said of Simonyan. “I tried to drag him out of his comfort zone and attack him with shorter balls.”

Patterson’s compliment was telling considering the Burroughs ace was coming off a 6-4, 6-2 win versus Ohanyan in the day’s opening-round semifinal.

“Burroughs’ player was very tough and it’s difficult to lose because you want to win a championship,” Ohanyan said. “I just had to shake it off.”

Ohanyan’s opening loss was followed by an equally difficult 8-6 defeat to Orellana, the tournament third seed, in the consolation third-place final.

That match had additional significance as the top two finishers in the singles finals, Patterson and Simonyan, advanced to section play of the individual tennis tournament on May 23. Third-place finishers are alternates to that tournament.

As for the doubles crown, the fourth-seeded squad of Burroughs’ Michael Whelan and Calvin Fox defeated crosstown rival Keon Park and Clayton Pauff of Burbank, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

Burroughs’ squad of Kevin Hoang and Wen Yao Lin, who were upset by Whelan and Fox in the semifinals, took third by virtue of Arcadia’s doubles team forfeiting both its semifinal and consolation-round third-place game due to illness.

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