Tennis: LA ends year at tourney

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By Mike Cote

ALBUQUERQUE — Patrick Raichur ended the 2008 season in much the same fashion as he ended the 2007 season.

Raichur, a sophomore, blew through the first two rounds of the state Class AAAA boys individual tournament only to meet up with one of the top players in the state in the tournament semifinals.

For the second straight year, Goddard’s Matt Neeld bumped Raichur out of the tournament, taking a 6-1, 6-1 win to advance to the title match against Albuquerque Academy’s Andy Cooper.

Neeld, who has a crushing forehand and a second serve better than most player’s first serves, needed only 45 minutes to advance to the tournament finals.

Raichur was forced to gamble throughout the contest, hitting harder shots and harder second serves than he might have otherwise wanted to.

“I was trying to switch it up,” Raichur said after the semifinal. “Maybe something would work, but he’s an all-around good player. He doesn’t have any weaknesses that I could take advantage of.”

Also on Saturday, in the girls doubles semifinal, the doubles squad of Jeena Kim/Grace Kim took on eventual champion Kami Blackwood/Samantha Merrion of Farmington. The Kim sisters fell in the semifinal, 6-1, 6-1.

Friday’s day one was productive for the Hilltoppers boys, with both singles Raichur and Ben Havemann advancing and the three doubles squads moving to the quarterfinals.

Unfortunately for Los Alamos’ boys, none of its three doubles teams would survive the quarterfinals.

Avery Colby/Matt Whicker, after a straight-set victory in the first round, was knocked off by Farmington’s Zach Pavlik/Adam Ashworth in the quarterfinals. Michael Lyon/Sean Erickson was a straight-set winner over Farmington’s No. 2 squad James Laravee/Kyle Hunt in the opening round, 6-2, 6-3, before succumbing to St. Pius X’s Nick Peña/Devon Roach.

The third Los Alamos team — three singles and three teams are the most any one school can send to the Class AAAA championship — Stephen Townsley/Chase Havemann, upended Goddard’s Eric Smith/Jacob Douglass 6-3, 6-4, before running smack dab into the tournament’s top seed, Albuquerque Academy’s Thomas Cooper/Nick Pachelli. Townsley/Havemann put up a solid fight through two sets, but was knocked out of the tournament 6-1, 6-2.

Brenna O’Hara won her first round contest against Santa Teresa’s Elizabeth Nanez, surrendering a lone game in the straight-set win. Both Hilltopper doubles teams also moved on to the quarterfinals.

Friday with Jeena Kim/Grace Kim taking a solid 6-3, 6-1 win in the first round, while Megan Townsley/Emma Myers earned a 6-3, 6-0 decision over Skyler Crossley/Heather Joyce of Goddard.

In the boys opening round, Havemann knocked off Silver’s Ben Lande, 6-0, 6-3, while Raichur held off a second-set rally by Deming’s Drew Boggs to win 6-0, 6-4.

Raichur drew Piedra Vista’s Mitch Clarke in Friday’s quarterfinals. Raichur played aggressively throughout the first set, but Clarke was able put some well-placed backhands away early, giving him a 4-3 lead late in the first set.

Raichur would rally, however, and Clarke’s service game would struggle for the balance of the set. Raichur broke Clarke’s serve with a textbook approach volley to go up 5-4, and would break Clarke’s serve again at 5-5 en route to a 7-5 first set victory.

In the second set, Raichur gained control early with a crushing forehand winner in the second game, then another forehand into the corner to break Clarke and go up 3-0. Raichur would win the second set 6-3.

In girls singles Friday, Chelsy Smith fell to Caiti Lardner in the first round 6-2, 6-4, while Elyse Jalbert dropped her opening round contest to Phoebe Mathieu of Silver, 6-3, 7-6.

Following O’Hara’s first round win, she drew top-seeded Lauren Pick of Academy. Pick, who would go on to win the AAAA singles title, topped O’Hara in that quarterfinal contest, 6-0, 6-1.

Following its win over Ali Rhodes/Michelle Burgess of Piedra Vista — a hard-fought split decision 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 — Kim/Kim drew the top-seeded Blackwood/Merrion in the semifinals to open Saturday’s play.