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This weekend, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls tennis team will be looking to add to its impressive winning streak at the District 2-4A tournament, while the boys will look to start a new streak.
Los Alamos will take part in the 2-4A championship, which starts Friday and continues through Saturday in Santa Fe.
The district tournament is the one and only chance singles, doubles and teams have to advance to the state 4A tournament, which is scheduled to start Wednesday.
At district, Los Alamos will enter Forrest White, George Margevicius and Chase Rochester in the singles competition and the teams of Nikita Belooussov/Dalton Smith and Steven McCrory/Daniel Dahl in the doubles draw. Belooussov, who finished third at the 2-4A tournament in the singles competition last season, is the only member of either of Los Alamos doubles teams that isn’t a senior.
The top three individuals and doubles teams from each district will advance to state.
Los Alamos will be looking to get back to championship form this season. In 2012, Los Alamos had its 12-year 2-4A title streak snapped, falling in the final round to Santa Fe.
The Hillltoppers and Santa Fe’s Demons could again be on a collision course to meet in the finals, but the Demos will go in with the psychological edge. The Demons defeated the Hilltoppers 5-4 in the pre-District 2-4A tournament two weeks ago to clinch the No. 1 seed for this weekend’s event.
Coach Lloyd Wilton said his team’s ability to compete from top-to-bottom in the lineup will be crucial at district.
“What we’re really trying to improve is our attitude,” Wilton said. “We’re having fun, but are we focused? We need to play but not think too much and not put too much pressure on ourselves.”
Wilton said Santa Fe’s top three singles has the edge in team competition but Los Alamos’ 4-5-6 players, McCrory, Margevicius and White, should have the edge against the Demons.
The team title could well be determined by the three doubles matches.
Santa Fe is paced by freshman Warren Fulgenzi, who is from the mightiest clan in New Mexico tennis history. Fulgenzi upset Stephen Townsley, last season’s No. 1 singles player for Los Alamos, to help propel the Demons to the team title.
The Hilltopper girls, meanwhile, aren’t likely to be seriously challenged for either the singles, doubles or team titles this weekend. While the Hilltoppers certainly don’t want to do anything to jeopardize their potential seeding for state — they will very likely be second or third when the brackets are released this weekend — it doesn’t appear the rest of 2-4A will be able to muster any real threat to their 13-year reign.
Los Alamos elected to play all of its top players in the doubles bracket at the 2012 district tournament and got all three of its double entries into the 4A tournament. Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff/Madeline Margevicus won the district doubles title over Colleen Fitzsimmons/Susanna Lucido. Fitzsimmons/Lucido won three games in a row during the first set to put the pressure on Hsieh-Ratliff/Margevicius, the No. 1 seed, but Hsieh-Ratliff/Margevicius rallied from a 15-40 deficit with Margevicius serving to win the point, the set, and ultimately the match in straight sets.