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Boys tennis: Toppers knock off Scorpions, Tigers

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By Mike Cote

TAOS – Things are continuing to head in the right direction for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys tennis team, with or without its full squad.

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Los Alamos had a solid outing this weekend at the Quail Ridge Invitational, picking up X victories, including a big win Saturday over District 2AAAA opponent Taos and Class AAAA opponent Farmington.

Los Alamos doubled-up Farmington 6-3 Saturday afternoon at Northside Fitness Center, picking up five of those wins in straight sets, then came back immediately afterward to knock off Taos 7-2, despite the fact the Hilltoppers were missing several key players this weekend due to the start of its spring break.

With the wins this weekend and two tournament victories already under their belts this season, everything is going just swimmingly.

“We’ve had a really good start,” Hilltopper Stephen Townsley said. “We’ve got a really good chance at state…We’re at Academy in a couple of weeks and that’s going to show us how are chances are.”

Los Alamos finished as the Class AAAA runner-up last season behind Albuquerque Academy’s Chargers, who, despite losing three of their top six players off the 2009 state championship roster, are still among the premier programs.

The Hilltoppers were without half of their top six this weekend, with No. 1 Patrick Raichur, No. 4 Chase Havemann and No. 6 Kirk Webber all having the tournament off.

However, Matt Whicker, a very capable No. 2, performed well in the No. 1 role at the tournament, picking up a pair of straight-set victories Saturday.

Whicker dispatched Farmington’s Isaac Bickel in straight sets, giving up just two games, then helped doubles partner Dominic Lucido grab a 6-1, 6-0 victory against the top doubles team from Taos less than an hour later.

During an almost identical time span, Townsley was trying to get past Farmington’s Taylor Braselle, who wasn’t going anywhere at No. 2 singles.

Townsley won the first set 7-5, but Braselle held on through 16 deuces in Townsley’s first service game of the second set before finally breaking his serve. Although Townsley would get that break back quickly, his next two service games would also get to deuce.

Ultimately, Townsley would win the second set 6-3.

Following the victory, Townsley said his service game has been something of a sticking point for him early this season, although it worked better for him Saturday.

Townsley also teamed with Misha Skurikhin against Farmington and Erik Edelmann against Taos to pick up victories.

Lucido picked up a pair of singles victories Saturday at No. 3, both coming in straight sets, as did Eli Berg at No. 5.

“There were no big surprises in terms of performance,” Hilltopper head coach Giri Raichur said. “The singles, I’m very pleased how we’re doing. We need to work on the doubles’ side, but I think that’s typical for this time of year.”