LA CRESCENTA — After learning that his team’s postseason opponent was going to be a familiar one, Crescenta Valley High girls’ tennis Coach Sam Hyun had an idea of how the match needed to play out in order for it to go in the Falcons favor.
Hyun said the Falcons would need to rely on their doubles tandems and, ideally, sweep the bracket, given opponent West Ranch’s strong singles competitors.
In what has become the norm this season, Crescenta Valley had a strong showing in doubles play, but not the sweep that was desired and ultimately needed, as West Ranch took seven of nine sets in the singles bracket to win, 10-8, in the CIF Southern Section Division II wild-card round match on Tuesday at Crescenta Valley.
“We practiced and trained our doubles game in the summer to strengthen it,” said Hyun, who, in his second year at the helm, has reached the postseason both years and guided the Falcons to a 8-4 record in the Pacific League — good for a second consecutive third-place finish in the standings. “Without singles support, though, it’s hard to win.”
The Falcons (9-6) started this season’s campaign with an 11-7 loss to the Wildcats without the No. 1 doubles team of Jackie Dilanchyan and Alexa Gregorian. Dilanchyan hadn’t been cleared to re-join the team yet after briefly transferring out and Gregorian played in the team’s No. 1 singles spot.
This time around, the duo, which recently captured the Pacific League doubles championship, dropped its first set to West Ranch’s No. 1 duo of McKenzie Lyle and Sydney Schwartz, but rebounded nicely to take the next two handily and posted a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 line.
“We could have taken it, but we let nerves get the best of us,” Dilanchyan said of the 6-4 loss. “We beat ourselves. After that, we felt we had nothing to lose and just played.”
“We started out shaky,” Gregorian added.
Dilanchyan and Gregorian’s win over West Ranch’s No. 2 Britney Waugh and Brianna Almaraz knotted the match at eight sets apiece, but West Ranch secured the final two sets — one in each bracket to clinch the victory and advance to play Beverly Hills in a first-round match Wednesday.
Lyle and Schwartz picked up all three sets for West Ranch (10-6), sweeping the Falcons, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Crescenta Valley’s No. 2 tandem of Ashley An and Angela Seo and No. 3 Katie Maskal and Annie Park also won two of three sets, 7-5 and 6-1, 6-3 and 6-1, respectively.
“Our No. 3 doubles won two out of three and they usually win one out of three,” said Hyun of Maskal and Park. “It’s nice to see that improvement.”
West Ranch’s No. 1 and No. 2 singles players, Walter-Eze Quintera and Julia Lynch, dominated the Falcons and gave up a combined five games, with Quintera not allowing one in a 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 sweep over Selin Ayvazian, Natalie Davidian, Jennifer Kim. Lynch posted scores of 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
Ayvazian and Lim picked up a set apiece against No. 3 Hannah Yuster.
“They played great,” Wildcats Coach Eric Spiecker said of freshman Quintera and junior Lynch. “It’s nice to have consistency in those top two spots.”
The Falcons will graduate most of their core, but will look for progression as they head into next season, nonetheless.
“They did a very good job, tried very hard,” Hyun said. “We will look forward to next year.”