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Chemistry experiment clicks

Strong bond, communication between CV duo made uncertain pairing pay big dividends.

January 04, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

What started out as a pairing born of necessity turned out to be quite a luxury.

Once Sarah Ali and Talia Moradkhanian joined forces, Crescenta Valley High girls' tennis Coach Sarah Wiggins rarely had to think twice about penciling in three wins atop the doubles bracket before each and every match the Falcons played.

The senior duo made its debut in the second match of the year and went on to post a near spotless area-best record of 38-1, while going 24-0 in the Pacific League. Ali and Moradkhanian were also 6-0 over the Falcons' two-match CIF Southern Section Division playoff run and, for their dominant season, were voted All-Area Girls' Doubles Team of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

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"I think the two of them, just the way they played and their style of play kind of helped support each other to maximize what they each could bring to the game," says Wiggins, whose squad went 14-5 on the season. "Right off the bat, that little buzz they got really continued throughout the entire season."

But in the beginning, it was a tandem formed more by fate than strategy.

Ali had always been a standout singles player, but shoulder problems were making it difficult for her to dominate one-on-one matchups as she once did. Moradkhanian, who was also dealing with her own hip injury for parts of the season, was expected to be one of the Falcons' top doubles players, but started the year without a clear cut partner.

"Me and Sarah have been wanting to play doubles together since freshman year," Moradkhanian says. "But she was always a singles player and I was always a doubles player and that was just always how it was. Our injuries brought us together and it was the coolest experience because, honestly, she's a sister to me and she's such an amazing tennis player."

Ali swept her singles sets against Hoover in the season opener, but was in so much pain afterward her season was in doubt.

"She was even thinking about dropping out altogether," Wiggins says. "It was kind of like, 'Well, let's just try you in doubles.'

"Talia was very much, 'Let her be my partner,' she was chomping at the bit for a strong partner. To get a leader like Sarah in there, Talia was just so excited that Sarah was going to play with her."

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