The Burbank High and Burroughs girls' tennis teams experienced different results in the Pacific League last season.
Behind a balanced lineup, the Bulldogs were competitive in league and finished second behind champion Arcadia. The Indians, on the other hand, struggled and finished second to last in league.
Leading into the 2013 season, it looks like last year's trends are continuing with the two local teams.
Although Burbank lost some key seniors to graduation, the Bulldogs have a strong group of returners that coach Loi Phan expects to contend for the league championship.
Things are different for Burroughs, which lost a crop of seniors. Coach Roy Bernhardt said he is hoping his squad will at least be able to be competitive and that reaching the postseason might be a stretch for the Indians.
Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.
Coming off a season in which they went 13-3, the biggest lost to the Bulldogs was the graduation of Ashley Basco. Basco played singles for most of the season a year ago and teamed with Meredy Gharabegi to play doubles for the league tournament and the postseason.
The pair finished runner-up in league and did well in the CIF Southern Section Individuals Tournament at Whittier Narrows Tennis Center. Following a first-round bye, Basco and Gharabegi earned a 6-2, 6-0 victory against Nana Akahoshi and Nancy Liang (No. 2 from the Almont League) of San Gabriel before suffering a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Sachi Carlson and Sara Khattab (No. 2 from the Bay League) of Peninsula in the third round.
In CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, Burbank fell in the first round to Beverly Hills, 11-7.
"Ashley was able to make it to the individual playoffs in doubles for three years, so that was a big loss for us," Phan said. "But we are hoping that we have some girls who are going to be able to step it up this season.
"I like to say that we have a pretty old, new team. We have some girls who are back and some good young ones as well. We have a lot of seniors, but we also have four freshmen right now and the way that they're going there's a chance they all could be on varsity."
Back to bolster the singles is Gharabegi, who is a senior. She will be joined by junior Lilit Vardanyan and senior Elizabeth Sanchez.
"Those are three key players from last year, so we are hoping they are going to step up," Phan said. "We had a pretty good turnout during the summer, so that was good."
Vardanyan has battled through a right wrist injury the past two years, but Phan said he is hoping she will be able to play with no problems this season.
Another key returner is senior Veronica Mendoza, who will likely lead the doubles corps.
"That is pretty much our key group," Phan said. "We will just have to see how many of these freshmen can help us out. They might be there, but they might not be. We will just have to wait and see."
In the race for the league championship, Phan said he expects Arcadia to again likely be the Bulldogs' stiffest competition.
"They have two girls returning from last season who were freshmen, and they're good," Phan said of the Apaches. "With those two girls playing singles you're looking at an automatic six points most of the time. Plus, they had a great JV team last season.
"But I'm hoping our girls will be able to be up there with them, and you never know. I think possibly we could be neck and neck with [Crescenta Valley] for that second spot."
The Bulldogs open the season Tuesday with a nonleague home match against Monrovia.
Bernhardt isn't so optimistic about making the playoffs with his squad after graduating eight seniors.
"I'm not sure if we have enough to take one of the league spots, to tell you the truth," said Bernhardt, whose team was 3-9 last season. "We lost quite a bit last season and we lost some very close ones in league.
"I really don't have any set expectations with this squad. We are just going to go out there and see what we can do."
Anchoring the Indians will be juniors Alicia Singhanate and Kirsten Bark, who will be the team's co-captains. While Singhanate will play singles, Bark will be moved around to play singles or doubles.
Also returning is sophomore Oanh Nguyen, who will play singles. A new player who Bernhardt has high expectations for is freshman Jennifer Drechsler.
"Although we lost all of those seniors, the girls who were juniors last season really emerged as the leaders of the team," Bernhardt said. "So, they are back and they will be the leaders for us."
In league, Bernhardt said he believes that Arcadia and Burbank should be the two top teams.
"I'm just hoping that we are going to be able to get better as a team," he said. "We might not win a lot, but I'm hoping that we're going to give it our best."
The Indians kick off their season Tuesday against host Alhambra in a nonleague contest.