Singles sweep propels Burbank tennis past Crescenta Valley

BURBANK — Burbank High Coach Loi Phan and his counterpart at Crescenta Valley, Sam Hyun, were thinking along the same lines when it came to what it would take to win Tuesday's Pacific League match.

They both realized doubles would be the key.

With a strong singles trio, Phan predicted that his Bulldogs would have to win at least three doubles sets — one every round — if they hoped to come out victorious. Hyun was hoping his Falcons would dominate doubles play, so he moved players to pad his duos in order to win as many sets as possible

In the end, Burbank didn't even need the modest gains expected by its coach in doubles. The Bulldogs swept all nine singles sets — surrendering just five games in the process — to earn a 12-6 victory at Burbank High.

"We knew that we didn't have any margin for error with our doubles," said Hyun, whose team dropped to 4-3, 2-2 in league. "We knew that if we wanted to win we would have to win most of the points in doubles. But they had a good doubles team."

The win keeps Burbank (7-1, 3-0) in first place in the Pacific League. The Bulldogs are attempting to win their first Pacific League title and the program's first league crown since 2002, when it was a member of the Foothill League.

Burbank upset defending champion Arcadia, ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division II, 10-8, Sept. 17 on the road.

"I told the girls that if they didn't play the way that they did against Arcadia, this CV team could beat them," Phan said. "We knew we had to come out and play and we couldn't rest on what we did against Arcadia."

The Falcons were put at a disadvantage early on when it was apparent the Bulldogs' singles players were on their game. The trio was led by No. 1 Lilit Vardanyan, who swept her three sets by 6-0 scores. No. 2 Meredy Gharabegi won, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0, and Nicole Merrit won, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1.

The Bulldogs also benefited from their No. 3 doubles team of Veronica Mendoza and Elizabeth Sanchez, which took two of three, 6-2, 6-1.

"After playing against Arcadia, we knew we had to keep up our game for this one," Mendoza said. "We just didn't want to let one match determine our whole season. We just wanted to go out there and play like we did against Arcadia."

The highlight of the day for the Falcons was the play of their No. 1 doubles team of Jacqueline Dilanchyan and Alexa Gregorian, which earned the team's lone sweep, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Crescenta Valley also received two set wins from the No. 2 doubles team of Angela Seo and Ashley An, 6-0, 6-4.

Just as Phan predicted, Burbank received one doubles win in every one of the three rounds. In the first, it was Mendoza and Sanchez winning, 6-1, to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 advantage.

The Bulldogs kept up the pressure and ended the second round with an 8-4 cushion.

"You could see they are a very good team," Hyun said. "They deserved to win against Arcadia."

Unlike against Arcadia when Phan moved players, primarily Gharabegi, to doubles to bolster his corps, he played straight up against the Falcons.

"It's nice that I have the players to do that," said Phan, whose squad was runner-up to Arcadia last season. "Meredy usually plays singles, but when we need her in doubles we can move her and she does the job for us.

"We knew CV was going to be strong in doubles, so we needed to get as many points in singles that we could."

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