District singles, doubles titles up for grabs

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Tennis: Townsley, Hsieh-Ratliff/Margevicius are top seeds in 2-4A

By Mike Cote

The District 2-4A championship tennis tournaments have been something of one-sided affairs of late.
Los Alamos’ boys and girls teams are undefeated at the district tournament since joining 2-4A in 2000. While in team competition that’s unlikely to change in 2012, the individual tournament could be very competitive.
The district tournament starts Friday and continues through Saturday in Santa Fe.
Most of the Hilltopper girls’ top players have elected to combine to play in this year’s doubles draw, leaving the singles competition wide open. Meanwhile, the second and third spots in the boys singles draw appear to be up for grabs as well.
For Los Alamos’ boys, their top singles player, Stephen Townsley, has proven to be a deterrent for most of the other singles in 2-4A. Townsley, who has been dominant throughout the 2012 season, grabbed the No. 1 seed in the singles draw and is definitely the one to beat.
The one player in 2-4A that posed the biggest threat to Townsley, Santa Fe’s Warren Fulgenzi Jr., apparently didn’t like his chances well enough in that matchup and elected to team up with Rafael Garcia in the doubles bracket.
The No. 2 seed in the boys singles draw was awarded to Española Valley’s top player, Jeremy Romero, while Nikita Belooussov of Los Alamos picked up the No. 3 seed.
Romero defeated Belooussov during the regular season to get the No. 2 seed. If the draw goes according to seed, the two will meet in Saturday’s semifinal round.
In doubles competition, Fulgenzi/Garcia was the No. 1 seed. Los Alamos’ entry, Dalton Smith/Steven McCrory, is the No. 3 seed.
The pressure may be on Smith/McCrory, however. Los Alamos has produced two straight Class 4A doubles champions. Patrick Raichur/Matt Whicker took the state crown in 2010 and Chase Havemann/Dominic Lucido won last year.
“I’m surprised everyone’s throwing their hats in for doubles,” Los Alamos boys head coach Billy Wilton said of the way the 2-4A draw turned out. “That kind of bums me out, but I guess I can’t complain too much.”
On the girls side, Los Alamos will feature three strong doubles teams, all of which were seeded in the top four for the tournament.
Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff and doubles partner Madeline Margevicius picked up the No. 1 seed for the tournament. Their biggest competition for a district title could well come from No. 2 seed Colleen Fitzsimmons/Susanna Lucido, also from Los Alamos.
Also electing to take part in doubles was Gwynn Cunningham/Emily Funsten. That team picked up a No. 4 seed in the doubles draw.
Hsieh-Ratliff, Margevicius and Fitzsimmons may be the best three players in 2-4A individually — most of Los Alamos’ roster would be the top players for any of the other district teams —  but with all of them electing to play in the doubles competition, the fight for the singles crown opens up considerably.
Los Alamos will also enter three players into the singles draw. Nasim Andrews, a junior, Andrea Hengartner, a senior and Astrid Hengartner, a freshman, will also compete.
Bernalillo’s Olivia Layden, a solid competitor, picked up the No. 1 overall seed in singles.
In 2011, Fitzsimmons/Hsieh-Ratliff finished third at the 4A title competition.
Neither the Hilltopper girls or boys teams are expected to be heavily challenged for the district team titles. The Hilltopper boys are leery of Santa Fe, but won a solid 6-3 decision over the Demons Monday to clinch the No. 1 team tournament seed.
Los Alamos’ girls are the No. 1 overall tournament seed, taking two of three regular season duals against Española Valley.