PASADENA — There were no surprises when it came to the participants in Wednesday's Pacific League boys' tennis championship matches in singles and doubles.
Both of the two top-seeded singles players and the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams advanced to the title round of competition at Pasadena High.
The least dramatic of the matchups came in singles, as Burroughs High's Sawyer Patterson captured his second straight Pacific League title. Patterson, the No. 1 seed, overcame some early uneven play to defeat No. 2 Emile Ohanyan of Hoover, 6-2, 6-1.
In the doubles final, the No. 2 tandem of Glendale's Michael Akopians and Arin Meserkhani surged back in both of their sets to get by the No. 1 team of Arcadia's Kevin Yang and Ken Nakamine, 6-3, 6-3.
Patterson's win is the latest in a long line of Burroughs singles champions, as Indians players have now won the last five league titles. Moreover, the league title has stayed in the city of Burbank (Burbank High's Arthur Karagezian won titles in 2008 and '09) for the past seven years. The last player to win a championship from outside the city was Glendale's Hovik Mazmanyan, who took home the crown in 2007.
In his first set against Ohanyan, Patterson took a 3-0 advantage, breaking Ohanyan twice, only to see his Tornadoes opponent fight back to win the next two games and make it close at 3-2.
"When it was 3-2 I kind of thought to myself that I had to either buckle down and focus or I might as well just walk off the court," said Patterson, who has yet to lose a set this season. "That's when I just upped my intensity to the top level and I just tried to play like I knew that I could.
"I knew by playing him during the season that he is a grinder and he just can get every single ball back. So I just wanted to get as many short points that I could and try and move him around. There was no way I was going to try and rally with this guy."
After that point, Patterson won the next three games to close out the first set and only surrendered one game in the final frame to seal the title.
It was a battle for the Glendale doubles team in the second day of the tournament, especially with the condition of Akopians.
"Michael's father told me he had a 103-degree temperature last night and he was still sick this morning with a 102-degree fever," Glendale Coach Bob Davidson said. "And on top of that, he had to wake up early this morning to take an [Advanced Placement] test.
"But he has been our leader all season and he's a tough competitor and I'm not surprised that he's out there."
Meserkhani said he could tell that his teammate was not 100% on the court.
"I would go and congratulate him and put my hand on his back and he just felt really hot," he said. "I could tell at times that he wasn't at his very best."
In the first set, the Glendale pair struggled some in the early going, as Yang and Nakamine jumped out to a 3-2 lead. However, the Nitros held serve to tie things at 3 and then proceeded to break serve twice to win the next three frames to take the set, 6-3.
The same scenario played out in the second set, with the Apaches again surging ahead, 3-2. But once again Akopians and Meserkhani buckled down, taking the next four games to close out the contest, 6-3.
"We just work well as a team," said Akopians, who was primarily a singles player during the season but was paired up with Meserkhani for the league tournament. "I have been playing with him for years. He is my neighbor and he has a tennis court, so I've been playing with him ever since I was a little kid. We know how the other one plays and we know how to pump each other up."
In the semifinals, the Glendale pair defeated No. 12 Cibi Pari and Andrew Chung of Arcadia, 5-7, 6-0 (10-7).
The top two singles players and doubles teams will take part in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament May 28 at a site to be determined. In last season's CIF event, Patterson advanced to the round of 32.
"I am just really focused now on doing well in CIF," Patterson said. "I am playing pretty well and I'm hoping that I can advance further than I did last year."
Patterson advanced to the final by defeating No. 4 Hrant Agakhanyan of Hoover in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-2. Ohanyan made it to the championship contest with a 6-2, 6-0 win against No. 3 Michael Kundibekian of Burbank.
Kundibekian was able to recover to earn a victory in the third-place match, defeating Agakhanyan in pro-set scoring, 8-4.
"When I lost the first one, I didn't focus on the loss and I just told myself that I had to win this one for third," Kundibekian said. "When a loss like that is done it's done, and you can't change anything; so I know I had to move on."
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