But it wasn’t meant to be, and, as Lola Barnard and Elise Talley finished off Burbank’s Veronica Mendoza and Gabrielle Markari, 6-2, Burbank players were forced to walk off their home court as St. Margaret’s flooded onto it in jubilation.
“It was very stressful,” said Burbank No. 1 singles player Lilit Vardanyan. “I could see everyone was nervous. You can’t blame one person. Everyone could have done a better job.”
For her part, Vardanyan continued a stellar season, improving her record to 53-1 on the year with only the CIF individual postseason remaining, beginning on Nov. 25.
Vardanyan swept through her three sets 6-0, 6-0, 6-3, and the loss keeps her from avenging her one setback of the season against Natalia Munoz of Hart, which Burbank (15-3) would have faced with the victory.
The turning point came in the second round, when the Burbank No. 3 doubles team of Mendoza and Markari held a set point over St. Margaret’s No. 2 team of Maddi Ursini and Julia Moulhawar before falling in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (9-7).
“They hung tough,” said St. Margaret’s Coach Chris Barker, whose team, which finished second in the Academy League, improved to 11-6. “They were playing against a team that was consistent, but they were able to pull it out.”
The match marked the first time the Bulldogs had advanced to the second round under seventh-year head coach Loi Phan and concluded a season that saw the Bulldogs win a Pacific League title for the first time (Burbank last won a title in 2002 when it was still in the Foothill League).
“We had a great season,” Phan said. “You can’t let this one [define it]. They came back and took it away from us.”
In addition to Vardanyan, Nicole Merrit added two singles wins, 6-4, 6-2.
The No. 2 doubles team of Elizabeth Sanchez and Meredy Gharabegi swept 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.