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SANTA FE — This year, it could well be the talent and experience of the Farmington Scorpions against the depth of the Los Alamos Hilltoppers that determines the Class 4A girls tennis championship.
The Hilltoppers, who are about to go into the meat of their season, picked up a big early season win over the Cleveland Storm Saturday at Capital High School. The Hilltoppers dropped just one set over nine matches to pull off a sweep over the Class 5A Storm.
Los Alamos, which was without two of its top players Saturday, had a dominant performance Saturday.
Junior Madeline Margevicius, in the No. 1 singles slot, No. 2 Susanna Lucido and sophomore Jing Xie, at No. 5 singles, picked up wins while dropping just two games in their matches.
This season, Los Alamos is returning all of its top six from 2011 and added Margevicius, who sparkled as an eighth grader for the Hilltoppers but was gone for two seasons.
Hilltopper veteran head coach Bruce Cottrell said it will still be an uphill climb to dethrone the Scorpions, who have won three straight state titles but aren’t quite the juggernaut this year that they have been during their impressive championship run.
Farmington still has a formidable lineup, led by Tori and Molly Merrion and Shayla Baysinger. However, Los Alamos is banking that its 4-5-6 players can help the top three in its lineup in the team’s quest for an upset.
“We have 10 girls that will be competing for those top six spots,” Cottrell said. “We have four or five good doubles teams…we’re playing doubles pretty well, but we’ve got to improve out singles play.”
Also taking victories for the Hilltoppers Saturday were Nasim Andrews at No. 3 single, Astrid Hengartner at No. 4 single and Bridget Daughton at No. 6 single. Margevicius and doubles partner Marissa Higdon, as well as the teams of Gwynn Cunningham/Emily Funsten and Hannah Cunningham/Laura Whicker, were also victorious.
The Hilltoppers’ Nos. 1 and 2 last season were Colleen Fitzsimmons and Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff, both of whom are back for their junior year but were inactive Saturday.
Fitzsimmons and Hsieh-Ratliff joined forces for the state tournament in 2011 and finished third in the 4A playoffs.
At last year’s state meet, Los Alamos earned the No. 2 seed advanced to the semifinal round but was upset by Albuquerque Academy, the No. 3 seed.