By David O’CONNOR
Even without leading singles player, Arin Meserkhani, the Crescenta Valley Falcons varsity boys’ tennis team easily bounced back from two successive defeats by outclassing hosts Whittier Christian High School, 17-1 in a non-league contest on Tuesday.
Meserkhani, who has been a massive contributor to the Falcons superb 6-2 start to the season, was unavailable due to a school commitment.
As a result, Falcons head coach Sam Hyun was forced to shift Jonathan Frink into the no. 1 singles spot and provide substitute, Eric Kim with an opportunity as the no. 2 singles player. Frink welcomed the responsibility by only conceding two games with commanding performances-6/2, 6/0 and Kim chimed in with a 6/0 drubbing, but was swept aside 6/0.
Falcons’ Coach Sam Hyun changed his team’s doubles combinations, which unearthed a successful performance from the previously untried pairing of Jason Chang and Albert Chtchyan, who didn’t drop a game in their 6/0, 6/0 straight forward wins.
Hyun admitted that Chang and Chtchyan may be selected for the all-important Arcadia matchup, since they combined well together.
“They are solid ground strokers and know how to neutralize hard hits with angle shots and lobs,” Hyun said. “I am considering them as no. 2 doubles against Arcadia.”
According to Hyun, Whittier was without their third singles player and third doubles pair, which meant the Falcons picked up six points due to forfeits.
Despite impressive displays from singles players Meserkhani and Frink, the CV Falcons were edged out 10-8 by neighbors’ La Cañada Spartans in an away non-league match on Monday.
The freshman-heavy Spartans doubles team was the difference. They cast aside the typically dependable Falcons doubles unit by claiming six of the eight sets on offer.
Previously undefeated leading CV pair, Kevin Rowe and Charlie Kim, were swept by the Spartans in their three sets, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Freshman Rowe and sophomore Kim have been the standout combination amongst Falcons doubles pairs this season. They’ve been instrumental in guiding CV to an impressive 5-1 start to the season prior to facing LC.
Rowe felt that Kim and himself produced too many unforced errors and came up against higher quality opponents than what they’ve been exposed to this season.
“I think it was tough because they were really good, here [at La Cañada] they are a lot better than a lot of the other doubles we’ve played,” said Rowe. “Basically these guys kind of got into our minds too because they were really consistent, steady players, we were a bit rusty with a lot of unforced errors.”
In a marathon opening singles match, Falcons no. 1 player Meserkhani overcame a 5-2 deficit and prevailed 7-6 in a tight tie-breaker, courtesy of sheer determination, ferocious forehands and superior shot selection.
The CV senior not only saved four match points in this see-sawing encounter, but this was the biggest test he had faced in conference or non-league play and he rose to the occasion and acknowledged how much his mental approach has evolved over the last two months.
“I was nervous, but I just said be aggressive and don’t be too pushy because he is the type of player that is kind of more aggressive, so I just kept it in and that’s how I pulled through,” Meserkhani said. “From the first match [of the season] compared to this match it’s been a big improvement.”
Meserkhani won his other matches 7-5, 6-0. Chtchyan lost 6-3, 6-0 and Frink won 6-3, 6-3 but was defeated 6-1 in his final match. Danny Chung/Eric Kim had 7-5, 6-3 victories and also went down 6-3 and Chang/Jae Woong Yoon succumbed 7-5, 6-2 and carved out a 6-1 win over the Spartans substitute pair.
Hyun reserved praise for Frink defeating the Spartans no. 1 and 2 singles players, but admitted that pairs Rowe/Kim and Chang/Jae Woong Yoon will need to elevate their level of play for the top of the table clash with Arcadia on Tuesday.
“La Canada doubles are very solid volleyers and they have a good strategy between them, so they move well together, close the gaps so we don’t have any openings,” Hyun said. “Kevin and Charlie underperformed today, they have to improve more and Jason and Jae are struggling.”