LA qualifies doubles, single for tourney

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By Mike Cote

SANTA FE — Despite not being able to make much of a dent against the Santa Fe Demons, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys tennis team will advance to this week’s Class 4A team playoffs.
Los Alamos picked up the No. 7 seed for the team tournament, which starts Friday in Albuquerque.
Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, they will be playing what is essentially a play-in game into the main 4A team draw early Friday morning. They will face the St. Pius X Sartans, the No. 10 seed, in the opening round at Sierra Tennis Club on the west side of Albuquerque.
Los Alamos finished as the District 2-4A runners-up last weekend. Los Alamos advanced to the team final, but was topped 5-0 by the top-seeded Demons, who swept five of the six singles contests to clinch the match.
Individually, Los Alamos will also send Nikita Belooussov to the 4A playoffs, as well as its top doubles team of Forrest White/George Margevicius. The singles and doubles playoffs get going Wednesday.
Santa Fe, which is spearheaded by Warren Fulgenzi but features a solid top-to-bottom lineup, was too much for the Hilltoppers to compete against, but Belooussov said he felt good about his overall performance last weekend.
“I pretty much played as good as I wanted to,” said Belooussov, who knocked off Isaiah Perez of Bernalillo and Edward Medina of Santa Fe in straight sets to advance to the championship round of singles play. “Only my serves weren’t up to what I wanted to, but that’s pretty much every year...I started off not-so-well, but as the tournament went on, I felt like I was playing better.”
For the singles tournament, Belooussov picked up the No. 5 overall seed at state.
White/Margevicius went in as the No. 1 doubles team in the district draw, but was upended in the final by Brandon Mutz/Sonam Phuntsog of Santa Fe. White/Margevicius won the first set handily, 6-2, but Mutz/Phuntsog roared back, playing a very effective game at the net to win the final two sets, 6-2, 6-4.
Despite the loss, White/Margevicius also made it to the 4A playoffs and picked up the No. 7 seed.
Hilltopper head coach Billy Wilton said his team and players are capable of making a run this week, but have to finish what they start.
“We’re getting deuces, we’re forcing those, but we’ve got to get the games,” he said. “It’s awesome that we’re getting deuce, deuce, deuce, but we’ve got to win some games.”