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The District 2-4A boys and girls tennis tournaments get going Friday, and for the first time since the formation of the district, neither Hilltopper team will be the favorite going in.
Los Alamos’ boys and girls had to settle for the No. 2 seed in the tournament, which gets going Friday and continues through Saturday in Santa Fe. The Hilltopper teams both lost in the pre-district seeding tournament earlier this month to Santa Fe’s Demons.
While the Demon boys are the defending 2-4A champions, topping the Hilltoppers in the finals of last year’s district tournament, the Demon girls have emerged as a threat to loosen the Hilltopper girls’ 14-year grip on the tournament.
Last season, Los Alamos’ girls went on to win both the Class 4A team title and the girls doubles titles. However, most of the team’s top players, including the winning doubles combination of Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff and Madeline Margevicius.
But Santa Fe emerged this season as a major player in 2-4A — prior to this year, Los Alamos has rarely been seriously challenged in district play. Santa Fe’s girls unit is spearheaded by Brandee Fulgenzi, an eighth grader who is part of one of the most successful tennis families in New Mexico prep history.
Fulgenzi plays both No. 1 singles and as half of the Demons’ No. 1 doubles team, along with partner Krysti Debruyn.
Per New Mexico Activities Association regulations, tennis teams around the state had to post their postseason rosters, including their top singles and doubles players in order, earlier this month.
Beyond documented injury, absence or a few other special circumstances, teams aren’t allowed to deviate from the rosters they filed with the NMAA.
For Los Alamos’ girls, their roster includes no surprises. Sidra Hsieh-Ratliff, a freshman and the Hilltoppers’ top returner going into this season, is slated to play in the No. 1 singles slot and she and Hannah Cunningham will play No. 1 doubles for the remainder of the season.
The rest of the Hilltoppers’ top six include Laura Whicker at No. 2, Cunningham at No. 3, Astrid Hengartner at 4, Lauryn Anaya at 5 and Lauren Fugate at 6.
On the boys’ side, Forrest White will get the nod at the No. 1 position. White, a junior, will also team up with No. 2 single George Margevicius for the No. 1 doubles position for the Hilltoppers.
Nikita Belooussov, a senior, is the only returning player for Los Alamos this season that advanced to the state tournament in 2013. Belooussov will be at the No. 3 singles slot and at the No. 2 double slot with Thomas Barks.
Barks is slated to go in the No. 4 singles slot, followed by Kyle Newell at No. 5 and Alex Tarentello at No. 6.
Santa Fe’s boys are led by Warren Fulgenzi, a sophomore, who has a sparkling record of 12-1 on the year. His only loss was came in mid-March, when he retired after taking a first-set win against Carlsbad’s Joshua Miller.
In the pre-district tournament, Santa Fe’s boys topped Los Alamos 7-2 — Margevicius and Belooussov won their singles contests — while the Santa Fe girls nipped Los Alamos 5-4.
In the girls match, Hengartner, Anaya and Fugate were winners in singles, but the Hilltoppers could only pick up one of the three doubles matches. Whicker/Hengartner defeated Kristin Mackowisk/Megan Varnum 6-1, 6-1.
Last Saturday, the Demons also picked up a 6-3 duals win over Los Alamos in Santa Fe.