The Glendale Community College tennis team is having such a fabulous season that it is said to be the best team in the history of the college.
Now in the second round of the playoffs, the Vaqueros finished the regular season at 14-2, a record that propelled them into the Western Conference Championship. The team is favored to win the state championship.
“Being on the team is great,” player Stanley Sarapanich said. “Our talent is great, but the team chemistry has been greater.”
Opponents have had no luck facing the Vaqueros, who have not lost two games in a row all season. It has been the dominant play of the singles players, starting with the team’s two biggest standouts: Dylan Kim and Sarapanich. The two co-captains come together in doubles play, leaving the competition without much hope.
Kim, who came to the team midway through the season in the beginning of March, gave the team another top-ranked player to add to the already nine stellar players on board. In 2002, he led Hoover High school to a CIF championship. Kim is also one of the best players in the state and an aspiring professional. He has already started competing against other potential professional players.
Sarapanich, who was a top prospect coming out of Crescenta Valley High School, where he enjoyed great success, has become a leader on the Vaquero tennis team. He also has what it takes to make it in the big time.
“Stanley and Dylan never do anything to show off their greatness,” head coach Bob MacKay said. “Their image is incredible, very low-profile.”
While most teams would love having two outstanding players and a nice supporting cast around them, the Vaqueros have the dynamic duo of Kim and Sarapanich, and seven highly talented players to complement them.
The other players who have made the team so unstoppable are Sergy Vagramian, Hakop Tadevosian, Haig Kassabian, Kevin White, Robert Abediyan, Chris Hernandez and
MacKay has compared this team’s talent to that of a Division-1 outfit. It starts with the great play of the players on the court to all the coaches and the hard-working trainers who have kept the team relatively healthy. The head coach is still not sure how it all happened.
“This team is too good,” MacKay said. “There are matches when the players are not challenged enough, so it’s my job to keep them focused.”
“I drew a good hand with this team, and I just have to keep it strong,” he added.
MacKay’s philosophy has always been to serve as an adviser to his players rather than getting in their face. He believes that his players can figure things out on the court, but he is always there when needed. Tennis is a mental game to MacKay, who says the game is played “below the waist and above the eyebrows.” More than anything, though, it is about teaching the players
As good as the Vaqueros are this season, all it takes is one injury to a key player, and the next thing you know, a team with the highest of expectations is sent home packing. MacKay knows this and is not willing to take any chances.
As the head coach of the tennis team, one would assume that McKay puts the sport ahead of everything else, but that is not the case. To McKay, it is as simple as “student-athlete, and not athlete-student, student comes first.”
With the playoffs under way, the Vaqueros need to be at the top of their games and approach every match as if it’s their last; the competition in the playoffs will be much tougher than what the team saw in the regular season. McKay, however, doesn’t want to look in the future, but in the present.
“We play in the moment, and always focus on the next point,” the coach said.
“We have been great all season but nothing matters unless we win it all,” Sarapanich said.