By David O’CONNOR
Led by number one singles player Arin Meserkhani and the undefeated doubles pair of Charlie Kim and Kevin Rowe, the Crescenta Valley High School varsity boys’ tennis team grabbed bragging rights over their Burbank counterparts by winning 13-5 against both Burroughs HS and Burbank HS in the first two league matches of the season last week.
CVHS extended their winning streak to three wins on the trot when they easily accounted for their cross-town rival and host Glendale HS Dynamiters, 15-3 on Tuesday. Senior Meserkhani had little trouble in winning his singles matches 6-1, 6-0 and was backed up by senior and number two player Albert Chtchyan, who gave his team momentum by sweeping the Dynamiters singles team, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 and number three player Jonathan Frink rounded out a smooth singles performance by the Falcons, with an impressive display in his 6-2, 6-0 victories.
Seniors Jason Chang and Jae Woong Yoong were undefeated in their doubles matches against Glendale and only conceded six games in their 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 wins and Kim and Rowe kept their untouchable record intact with an unshakeable 6-3 win in all three sets.
Although Falcons Head Coach Sam Hyun was pleased with his team’s performance, he felt there were a couple of areas that his players needed to improve upon in order to step up to the next level, which will allow them to overcome the other contenders for the league title, Arcadia and Burbank.
“We need to practice a little more on our doubles strategy. Some guys are hitting the ball into the net too much and in singles they are sometimes getting tired and they don’t bend their knees,” said Hyun. “They try to do topspin while standing tall, which doesn’t work.”
The Falcons opened their season on their home court against the Burroughs Indians on Feb. 24 and although they couldn’t subdue the Indians’ number one singles player who swept all three sets, Kim and Rowe put on a doubles exhibition by outclassing their opponents 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
Hyun was quick to applaud the reliable doubles pair for their ability to set up their win with crafty serving and lethal volleys, but also gave praise to CV’s well-rounded team and gave special mention to Burroughs’ leading doubles team and singles player, who won a combined five out of their six sets against his players.
“Charlie and Kevin, our number two doubles team, were outstanding by applying the correct strategy of doubles, which is directing their serve and then attacking the volleys with placement.” Hyun said. “Burroughs has a strong number one singles and doubles team, but we have depth in singles and doubles.”
Although Meserkhani dropped his opening set to the Indians’ number one player, he managed to regroup by steamrolling through his next two sets 6-0, 6-0, showing that he was paying attention to his coach’s season objective in the process.
Kim and Rowe were the shining light again for CVHS in their 13-5 win over the Burbank HS Bulldogs on Thursday, Feb. 26 and they were well supported by their doubles teammates and Meserkhani also showed his experience in singles.
The Falcons’ doubles pairings of Kim/Rowe, Chang/Woong Yoon and Danny Chung/Alexander Jang shutout the Bulldogs in all nine sets and it was Kim/Rowe who won in the most convincing fashion by only dropping seven games, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
The Bulldogs’ singles players outplayed the Falcons by winning five of the eight sets contested courtesy of some aggressive and unrelenting play, which allowed them to prolong the points and put CVHS on the back-foot.
Meserkhani, who won his only two singles sets 7-5 and 6-2 due to being substituted by Coach Hyun for the third set, was impressed with his double’s teammates’ high standard of tennis and communication and felt that his team prevailed due to their consistent play. He believes that if the boys stay focused they should finish in the top two in league.
“Our doubles teams have pretty good chemistry because they are really good friends and they come out and are always positive and pull through almost every match,” said Meserkhani. “For the playoffs we’re counting on finishing first or second, but we have got to keep solid [to] be either first or second in league. I’m pretty sure because I can tell you our team is pretty solid.”
Meserkhani attributed a lot of the team’s initial success to Hyun’s infectious energy and coaching style.
“Coach Hyun always gives good mentor tips to us and before the games he always pumps us up and makes the whole team feel more positive,” Meserkhani said. “He’s been a great help to us.”