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LA finishes second in team tourney

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By The Staff

ALBUQUERQUE — The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys tennis team closed out a solid season taking the runner-up spot at this weekend’s Class AAAA state championship tournament.

Los Alamos earned two pair of shutout victories in the first two round of the state playoffs, which started Friday and continued through Saturday, but couldn’t overcome the mighty Albuquerque Academy Chargers in the finale.

Academy, by far the most successful program in the history of the state, swept Los Alamos in the final round, 5-0. It was the third straight season the two teams met in the finals, with Academy taking all three meetings.

It would’ve taken some doing to knock off the Chargers, who boast the top two players in Class AAAA and arguably the entire state, but the Hilltoppers were pleased with the effort against the now seven-time defending champs.

It wasn’t all good news for the Hilltoppers, however. Hilltopper No. 1 player Patrick Raichur re-aggravated a shoulder injury that slowed him down last season. Hilltopper head coach Giri Raichur said the injury didn’t appear to be serious, however, but looked more like fatigue after going three sets with Matt Neeld of Goddard.

The Hilltoppers made light work of the Artesia Bulldogs in Friday’s first round, winning that contest 9-0. The Hilltoppers didn’t drop a single set in the first round of the team tournament.

Against Goddard in the semifinals, Los Alamos quickly swept all three doubles contests – only the No. 2 doubles took longer than straight sets to win — and closed out that contest early, winning 5-0. The season was a noteworthy one for the Hilltoppers, who, despite thin weather conditions early in the season came out and won their first tournament of 2010. They never looked back from that point on.

“It wasn’t like we started out slowly,” Raichur said. “We had a solid showing at the beginning of the season and that really helped. Everyone this year was really pushing hard.”

Los Alamos was the District 2AAAA champion this season and earned a state AAAA doubles title with Patrick Raichur and Matt Whicker teaming up to give the program its first doubles title since 1989.

Editor’s Note: This story was intended to run in Sunday’s paper.