BURBANK HIGH — Nobody had to tell Burbank High girls' tennis Coach Loi Phan and the Bulldogs what they were up against Thursday in a Pacific League showdown with Arcadia.
Not only are the Apaches the defending league champion, but they came into the match undefeated and ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division II and featured the reigning league singles champion.
Even though Phan considers this his strongest team in his seven years as coach, the Bulldogs just couldn't keep pace with Arcadia. The Apaches captured eight of nine sets in doubles to earn a 13-5 victory at Burbank.
"I told our players coming in that hopefully we can match up with Arcadia and maybe carry some of that momentum against our next opponent," Phan said. "I told them if we lose today it's fine, accept it. They are a good squad and they are one of the top teams in our entire division. I didn't care if the score was 18-0, but it was how competitive were we with the 18-0 score."
With Arcadia (5-0, 3-0 in league) head and shoulders above the other teams in league this season, Phan is hoping the Bulldogs (3-1, 2-1) will be able to finish in second place. The coach has never had a team finish higher than third place during his tenure.
However, to get the second spot, Burbank will have to contend with Crescenta Valley (3-1 in league). Arcadia Coach Jerry Dohling likes the Bulldogs' chances to capture the runner-up spot.
"Burbank is a really talented team," he said. "They have some good players back from last year. Right now, I think they're stronger than CV, based on having played both teams now."
The Bulldogs played well at spots in singles, except when it came to battling Arcadia No. 1 Francis Dean, the defending league champion. Dean swept her three sets, 6-1, 6-0, 6-1.
Burbank received a solid performance from No. 3 singles Lilit Vardanyan. The sophomore won two of three sets, 1-6, 6-3, 6-0, and was the Bulldogs' lone double winner of the afternoon.
"I told her that she was going to go against three top players, and you might not have seen this caliber of players up to this point," Phan said. "In her first set, she just came out on a tear and she didn't give that girl a chance. That's why she was able to win it, 6-0. I think some of her tournament experience is starting to pay off for her."
At No. 1 singles, Meredy Gharabegi won one, 1-6, 1-6, 6-4, as did No. 2 Ashley Basco, 0-6, 2-6, 6-4.
"We knew they were going to be tough, and we knew they were going to have tough singles," said Basco, who rallied back from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits to win her set.
In doubles, Burbank was able to win just one, as Elizabeth Sanchez and Aja Locke notched a 7-5 result. The pair also dropped a close tie-breaker, 6-7 (4-7).