After a fine regular season, Alex Sarkissian capped his exceptional collegiate career with a memorable playoff run.
It’s something Sarkissian, a Pepperdine University men’s tennis player and former Glendale Community College standout, said he won’t soon forget after advancing to the NCAA Division I singles final.
“It’s been a very exciting season and one I’ll always remember,” said Sarkissian, who saw his splendid postseason run come to a close Monday with a 6-4, 6-1 defeat against Marcos Giron of UCLA at Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. “It was a great experience and there’s plenty to be proud of.
“Just to get this far is an honor. It’s something that can help me down the line.”
Sarkissian, who captured the California Community College Athletic Assn. state singles championship while with the Vaqueros in 2011, entered the week-long tournament ranked 28th before turning aside five top-50 ranked players. He also worked with teammate Francis Alcantara to reach the quarterfinals in doubles.
Unfortunately for Sarkissian, he came up just short against Giron.
The second-seeded Giron, who improved to 2-1 lifetime against Sarkissian and received an automatic entry into the main draw of the 2014 U.S. Open in New York in August, broke serve in the first set to take a 3-2 advantage. Sarkissian, who earned a bid into the qualifying draw at the U.S. Open, couldn’t regroup the remainder of the set.
Giron (29-5) then seized control of the match en route to winning in straight sets.
“I thought I played a good first set and then Marcos got that break,” said Sarkissian, who was tabbed the 2014 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and an All-WCC first team performer in singles and doubles and additionally secured Intercollegiate Tennis Assn. All-American accolades. “In the second set, he just broke me down.
“It was a good match. Marcos was just the better player.”
Pepperdine 12th-year Coach Adam Steinberg said Sarkissian, who became the third singles player in program history to reach the singles championship match, thrived throughout the tournament.
“He went out there against some of the best players and kept getting better,” Steinberg said. “He should be proud of himself and I’m happy for him.
“He had a good first set [Monday] and then just got a little tired. When you play against Marcos, you have to be fit and ready to go. Alex had an incredible season.”
Sarkissian opened the tournament with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) win against 15th-ranked Brayden Schnur of North Carolina before earning a 6-1, 6-4 victory against 29th-ranked Romain Bogaerts of Wake Forest. Sarkissian then registered a 7-6(7-1), 6-1 win against 38th-ranked Leandro Toledo of Minnesota before posting a 6-0, 6-3 victory versus 47th-ranked Roberto Cid of South Florida.
In a semifinal match, Sarkissian dispatched 39th-ranked Denis Nguyen of Harvard, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“I had a real good test in the semifinals,” said Sarkissian, who went 29-11 overall this season. “It was going back and forth and you had to stay on pace.
“When I won that last set, I felt relieved.”
In doubles action, Sarkissian and Alcantara, ranked 15th, began with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 win against 12th-ranked Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur of Columbia and then secured a 6-2, 6-1 victory versus 60th-ranked Jack Findel-Hawkins and Norbert Nemcsek of North Florida. Their run came to a close with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat against 14th-ranked Arjun Kadhe and Jakob Sude of Oklahoma State.
“We were lucky to have him at Glendale and he did a lot for our program,” said Bob MacKay, the Glendale Community College men’s tennis coach who coached Sarkissian during his days as a Vaquero. “He got to the finals and got his degree.
“He’s a competitor and a lot of players don’t get a chance like he did going to the finals. What he did was awesome.”
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .