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Boys tennis: LA rolls to win in 2-4A tourney

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By Mike Cote

TAOS — It was a big weekend all around for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys tennis team.

Los Alamos, competing at the District 2AAAA championship tournament, not only took top honors in the 2AAAA team tournament, downing the hosting Taos Tigers, but will send at least two and possibly three players to the Class AAAA individual tournament.

The Hilltoppers downed the Taos Tigers in the district championship match Saturday morning 6-0, and going into the afternoon, three Hilltopper singles  were still alive for three spots in the individual tournament.

Los Alamos’ doubles teams, Patrick Raichur/Chase Havemann and Stephen Townsley/Dominic Lucido will also both advance to the state tournament, with Raichur/Havemann winning the district title and Townsley/Lucido finishing third.

Los Alamos was a solid favorite going into the tournament and didn’t disappoint.

In the 2AAAA championship dual with Taos, which was shortened by rain that fell off-and-on during Saturday’s play, Los Alamos took the three doubles contests, which were played early Saturday, without much of a hitch, then Nos. 2-4 Townsley, Chase Havemann and Lucido grabbed straight-set wins to secure the championship.

Townsley, Havemann and Lucido were all bumped up from their usual 4-5-6 positions in the lineup so that Matt Whicker and Ben Havemann could have fresher legs when they faced off the 2AAAA individual singles championship later in the day.

Los Alamos was leading in the other three singles matches when play was suspended.

The 2AAAA championship contest between Whicker and Havemann will be finished in Los Alamos after it too was suspended due to the weather.

Whicker won the first set 6-2 but the second set was knotted at 5-5 when play was halted.

The stoppage had Whicker chagrinned, mostly because he would have to try to get warmed back up.

The first set was closer than the 4-game spread indicated, with the two battling back and forth between several long rallies. The two traded service breaks to knot the score at 2-2 in the first, but Whicker’s three-deuce, one-break point hold gave him a 3-2 edge and seemed to give him the momentum for the remainder of the set.

“I felt pretty solid,” he said. “My serves are doing well. I could rely on those. I was getting my returns in. I’m just waiting for an opportunity to break his serve.”

Neither had broken the other’s serve in the second set before the rains came.

In the 2AAAA doubles championship match, Los Alamos’ top team of Raichur/Havemann held on despite a mid-first set charge from Española Valley’s Ryan Martinez/Sterling McCall to win 6-4, 6-0.

Raichur/Havemann jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first set, but Martinez/McCall came back to take three straight games and make the Hilltopper duo sweat a little.

“It’s nice to play a good team from Española,” said Raichur, a junior. “That’s the best team I’ve played from Española.”

The Sundevils were knocked out as a team in the first round the tournament, but Martinez/McCall showed Friday it was there to play. Martinez/McCall, the second seed in the boys doubles draw, upended a solid Taos team of Robbie Forbes/Magnus Nelson in straight sets in the semifinals.

“They started stepping up some after we won the first three (games),” Havemann said. “We got overconfident and they came back...We realized they weren’t going to be a pushover.”

From there on out, Raichur/Havemann won nine of the next 10 games to grab the district championship.

The duo had felt all throughout it had a shot to do something in the postseason tournaments and things have fallen into place nicely.

“We’re finally mixing together just in time for state, which is good,” Havemann said.

Raichur said he thought the team would end up with a top four seed when the AAAA doubles draw is released, thanks in no small part to its 12-1 season record, but didn’t want to guess where in there he and Havemann might fall.

In the singles competition, Webber and Capital’s RL Adams will have to wait for Tuesday when Los Alamos travels to St. Michael’s to finish their contest. The two will play for the final spot in the individual draw — Havemann and Whicker are already in regardless of who wins between them.

The boys individual tournament starts May 14, a week after the team championship, which gets going Thursday in Albuquerque.

Los Alamos will find out today where it is seeded — brackets will be available online after the New Mexico Activities Association tennis committee meets — but is right in line for a No. 2 seed. Albuquerque Academy will almost certainly grab the top seed.

“I think everyone is pretty much getting into their prime right now,” Whicker said. “Everyone has had their ups and downs over the course of the season, but they’re putting it together.”

Here are the results from the boys District 2AAAA individual singles and doubles tournament:

Singles

First round

Alen Palmer, Taos, def. Devin Galligan, Española Valley, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5.

Zheng Zhong, Española Valley, def. Cal VanWilligan, Taos, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

Quintin Windham, Capital, def. Polin Messmer, Taos, 7-6 (5), 6-0.

Quarterfinals

Matt Whicker, Los Alamos, def. Palmer, 6-0, 6-0.

Kirk Webber, Los Alamos, def. Ray Romero, Española Valley, 6-0, 7-6 (5).

RI Adams, Capital, def. Zhong, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Ben Havemann, Los Alamos, def. Windham, 6-0, 6-0.

Semifinals

Whicker def. Webber, 6-0, 6-1.

Havemann def. Adams, 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles

First round

Johnathan Jones/Elon Bauer, Taos, def. Matt Mandell/Ryan Vigil, Capital, 6-4, 6-1.

Jeremy Romero/Josev Martinez, Española Valley, def. Brian Vigil/Robert Rodriguez, Captial, 6-1, 6-2.

Kent Ly/Misha Skurikhin, Los Alamos, def. Dion Montoya/Luis Chavira, Española Valley, 6-0, 6-0.

Taylor Braselle/John Laycock, Taos, def. Dominic Romero/Adrian Saavedra, Capital, 6-0, 6-1.

Quarterfinals

Patrick Raichur/Chase Havemann, Los Alamos, def. Jones/Bauer, 6-1, 6-1.

Stephen Townsley/Dominic Lucido, Los Alamos, def. Romero/Martinez, 6-0, 6-0.

Robbie Forbes/Magnus Nelson, Taos, def. Ly/Skurikhin, 6-3, 6-3.

Ryan Martinez/Sterling McCall, Española Valley, def. Braselle/Laycock, 6-0, 6-3.

Semifinals

Raichur/Havemann def. Townsley/Lucido, 6-3, 6-1.

Martinez/McCall def. Forbes/Nelson, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Third place

Townsley/Lucido def. Forbes/Nelson (retired).

Final

Raichur/Havemann def. Martinez/McCall, 6-4, 6-0.