Boys tennis: LA gets by Taos on road Saturday

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By Mike Cote

TAOS — It wasn’t over until it was over. And then some.

Kirk Webber and Johnathan Jones slugged it out until the bitter end to decide the outcome of Saturday’s match between the Los Alamos Hilltoppers and the Taos Tigers boys tennis teams.

The two No. 4 singles split their two sets then went into a tiebreaker. But the tiebreaker would decide more than just the outcome of their match.

The Hilltoppers and the Tigers evenly split the other eight matches between them Saturday and the team victory would all come down to Webber’s and Jones’ finale.

“When I was in the tiebreaker, I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this done, get it done for the team,’” Webber said.

And he did get it done for the team.

Webber came back from a 2-1 tiebreak deficit to win 10-6 and give the Hilltoppers a 5-4 victory over the Tigers.

The match was part of the Española Valley Quadrangular, which was neither a quad or played in Española Valley, because Española Valley’s Sundevils’ courts have fallen into disrepair and because the fourth team invited, Farmington, was snowed out Friday.

Instead, Saturday’s contest was played at the Quail Ridge Inn, which is managed by Taos head coach Kurt Edelbrock.

In Los Alamos’ other match of the day, the Hilltoppers won big over the Sundevils.

Webber grabbed the first set 6-3, but Jones broke Webber with the score tied late in the second set, then Jones hit some big volleys on his next serve to take the second set 6-4.

Jones appeared to have the momentum heading into the tiebreaker, then Webber mis-hit two volley attempts to give Jones a 1-2 advantage.

“It was a little crazy, but he’s gotten way better,” Webber said of Jones. “I loved it. It was a great match. I knew I had to step it up a little bit.”

Three points later, Webber hit a forehand deep into the right corner for a winner to go up 4-2, then would win two straight service points to go up 6-3 and take control of the tiebreaker.

Los Alamos won the top five singles contests over Taos, but Taos won the No. 6 match and all three doubles. Only the team of Kent Ly/Brad Dafresne at No. 3 doubles even managed to take a set.

Matt Whicker was a straight-set winner at No. 1 singles against Taos’ Robbie Forbes, then Ben Havemann got through a tough first set and dominated the second set against Magnus Nelson at No. 2 singles.

Havemann, who started the spring tennis season late — he was wrapping up the hockey season — was taking part in just his second tournament and his first singles appearances of the season. Havemann also knocked off Española Valley’s Sterling McCall 6-2, 6-4 Saturday.

“It was good to get the singles in,” Havemann said after topping Nelson. “The doubles was pretty bad, but we’re still working on that.”

Los Alamos will be hoping to get both its doubles game and its net play to be a little more consistent over the next several weeks.

But the wins were big for the Hilltoppers, as both Taos and Española Valley are District 2AAAA opponents and any wins the Hilltoppers can pick up during the regular season will help their seeding when the district tournament comes around in early May.

Hilltopper head coach Giri Raichur said he thought Taos would put up a big fight Saturday and thought the Tigers could be a formidable opponent throughout the 2009 season.

Saturday’s win by the Hilltoppers was their second straight victorious outing. They took top honors at the Carlsbad Invitational two weeks earlier.

Los Alamos won Saturday’s contest without the help of its top singles player Patrick Raichur, who was out of town.