By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
There is a winning trend going on at Burbank High School. Ending years of athletic futility are coming to an end.
The latest Burbank program to end a significant drought is girls tennis who defeated Glendale on Thursday, 17-1, to share the league title with Arcadia. It was the first league championship for the Bulldogs since 2002 when they were in the Foothill League.
More prominent, it was the first Pacific League title for girls’ tennis in school history.
“I think it’s great for the girls. They’ve put in a lot of hard work,” Burbank coach Loi Phan said. “All summer we were here conditioning. They just wanted to win. They believed it and they all stuck together. The chemistry has been there. I’m happy for them.”
In 2009, the Burbank football program won its first league title since 1972. Last year the girls’ volleyball team won its first league title since 1975. The softball team followed suit in the spring with its first league title since 1987. The baseball team broke through with its first league title since 1991. Now girls’ tennis has reached the pinnacle.
Or have they?
“They are not satisfied with winning league and that’s it. They want to do more,” said Phan. “I told them that now that you have done something that no one has ever done, either you can be happy or you keep going and say ‘how far can we go?’”
Burbank (14-2, 11-1 in league) tied Arcadia for the championship. The Bulldogs won the first meeting, 10-8, and tied the second, 9-9, but lost in games, 78-77. However, BHS will enter the CIF Division II playoffs as the league’s No. 1 entry.
“It means a lot because we have been working for it a long time,” Meredy Gharabegi said. “We know it’s a big deal because we always talk about it.”
Along with seniors MacKenzie Emi, Gabrielle Markari, Veronica Mendoza, Natalie Pickens and Elizabeth Sanchez, Gharabegi has seen first-hand the development of the program the last four years. Three consecutive playoff berths and now a league banner to hang from high atop the tennis courts.
“Each year we have progressed more and more,” Gharabegi said. “My junior year we got Lilit and that was a big boost. I didn’t think that we would get to this point in my senior year. I feel this year we are really stable.”
Lilit Vardanyan and freshman Nicole Merrit have contributed mightily to the Bulldogs’ success. Vardanyan has lost only one set all season and is an astonishing 44-1 overall.
Burbank, ranked No. 5 in Division II, will begin CIF playoffs the week of November 4. Next up are the Pacific League singles and doubles championships on October 28 and 30 at Pasadena High School.