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SPOTLIGHT ON BOYS' TENNIS

Hoover Is a Force in Pacific

April 04, 2002|LAUREN PETERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Excitement surrounded the Glendale Hoover High boys' tennis team before the start of the season.

Expectations have risen since the Tornadoes surprised Arcadia, 14-4, last week in a Pacific League match at Hoover.

In its first measuring-stick match, Hoover (12-0, 3-0 in league play), No. 6 in The Times' rankings and fourth in the Southern Section Division I coaches' poll, beat up a previously undefeated Arcadia team that had won the last two league titles, advanced to the section Division I semifinals, and had two well-regarded junior-circuit players in Mark Contreras and Warren Li.

"Our first challenge was Arcadia," said Hoover sophomore Sergy Vagramian, who plays at No. 3 singles. "It was our first test."

Hoover won seven of nine sets in singles, but surprisingly, did more damage in doubles, where it swept all three sets in the first round.

"After that was when I tried to control myself," Coach Lynn Santamaria said. "But I was somewhat excited. I've never, ever, in 11 years I've been doing this, had this kind of depth in doubles."

It sunk Arcadia (9-1, 1-1), which bowed gracefully to the Tornadoes.

"They're really strong," Arcadia doubles player Jonathan Lee said. "There's been a lot of hype about Hoover, so we knew it'd be tough. But for every single set out there, we had to fight, and we got blown away anyway. I really think they can win the title for Division I."

So does Hoover, the second-place finisher in the Pacific League and a loser in the second round of the playoffs last year.

Its lineup includes, at No. 1 singles, freshman Sam Tadevosian, the runner-up in last summer's U.S. Tennis Assn. Boys' 14 division Southern California sectional tournament and the Ojai tournament boys' 14-and-under champion last April.

Tadevosian (31-1 in sets) is No. 19 in the boys' 16 division in Southern California in current USTA standings. He has lost only to Contreras, 7-6 (8-6).

Tadevosian is joined by junior Dylan Kim (20-0), who moved with his family from Korea last summer and advanced to the quarterfinals of the International Tennis Federation Orange Bowl tournament in December. He is usually at No. 2 or No. 3 singles, but he is also strong in doubles.

Vagramian (16-1), a transfer from Burbank, did not play high school tennis last spring. He was enrolled in a home-schooling program and at the Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai. He is No. 25 in the boys' 16 Southern California standings.

He lost in the semifinals of the South Torrance tournament two weeks ago and will team with Tadevosian in doubles at the USTA Easter Bowl/Super National Championships beginning this week in Palm Springs.

Sophomore Hakop Tadevosian, Sam's brother and the 2000 Ojai tournament boys' 14-and-under champion, is No. 46 in Southern California in boys' 16 standings. Relegated by the new talent and depth to No. 1 doubles, he and sophomore Robert Abedian are 13-1.

Seniors Carl Weber and Eugene Kim are 23-9 at No. 2 doubles and sophomore Joseph Kim and senior Eddie Choi, another former singles player, are 20-3 at No. 3 doubles.

"Before the season, we knew we had a great team," Vagramian said.

"Our top guys are all really good, and everybody else is pretty decent. We don't have any minuses on our team."In addition to the players' talent, they have also formed a close bond, forged largely by common Armenian and Korean heritages, their enthusiasm for the sport and their prospects of success.

"With Sam and Sergy and Hakop, they know each other so well that they're really close, and they mingle with the other boys very well," Santamaria said . "They're creating a really nice atmosphere that's competitive but fun."

Santamaria has no trouble getting his players to show up for high school practice sessions and matches, a common problem for coaches of junior-circuit veterans.

"We take it pretty seriously and have some pretty good practices," Vagramian said. "And we really look forward to all our matches."

This season, that's no wonder.

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