Girls tennis: Topper girls open state play Friday

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By Mike Cote

It might seem odd that a 7-2 loss is a reason to be upbeat, but Tuesday’s loss to the Bosque School Bobcats was just that for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls tennis team.

Going into Tuesday’s dual, the Hilltoppers were fully expecting to be beaten 9-0 by the best team in the state, regardless of class.

How good are the Bobcats? Their No. 3 single, Sierra Smith, is ranked in the top 50 in regionals.

Los Alamos was also without half of its top eight players heading into Tuesday’s dual, but still managed to take a pair of singles contests, including an upset of Smith by Emma Myers.

Los Alamos could scarcely ask for much better heading into Friday’s Class AAAA state team championship meet.

The AAAA team title meet starts this afternoon with a pair of play-in duals. Los Alamos, the top seed in the tournament, gets going at 8 a.m. Friday against the winner of one of today’s play-in duals, eighth-seeded Piedra Vista or ninth-seeded Santa Teresa.

Hilltopper head coach Bruce Cottrell, who has admittedly felt all season like his players have been walking around with targets on their shirts, expressed some guarded optimism about his team’s chances in the tournament.

“I think we’re playing well enough to make it to the finals, unless the coach makes the wrong lineup,” he said.

Los Alamos heads into the tournament off not only a good loss to Bosque, but a decisive win at the 2AAAA tournament last week at Taos.

The Hilltoppers beat the Taos Tigers 6-2 — the ninth match was called short because the two doubles teams playing were scheduled to face one another again later in the day and the outcome wouldn’t affect the team result — to earn the district crown, winning four of the six singles matches and two doubles matches.

Los Alamos finished its regular season with a 14-3 record in duals competition, having knocked off every Class AAAA opponent it saw, including Piedra Vista, Farmington and Taos, which it topped four times this season. Los Alamos could potentially see all of those teams in the tournament.

“Everyone in our program is wary of Farmington,” Cottrell said. “It’s hard to try and beat someone like Taos five times in one season, but I feel good against the rest of the field.”

Before the season even started, Cottrell had Farmington and Taos pegged potentially to make deep runs in the state tournament.

Los Alamos is looking for its second straight Class AAAA win. In 2007, the third-seeded Hilltoppers upset Farmington’s Scorpions in the semifinal round 6-3, then stunned top-seeded Albuquerque Academy for the team title, 5-4.

Five members of that team — Jeena Kim, Grace Kim, Megan Townsley, Brenna O’Hara and Emma Myers — are scheduled to compete this weekend.

Townsley, who suffered a leg injury at the 2AAAA tournament, is feeling better and should be ready to go for the state tournament.