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With the 2011 season quickly winding down, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys and girls tennis teams are trying to take advantage of the time they have left.
Los Alamos had scheduled nine duals meets in the span of eight days, including Tuesday’s contest against the Taos Tigers. Los Alamos had three straight days of home duals events set, but today’s contest against Las Vegas Robertson was a late scratch.
While Los Alamos’ teams are juggling their lineups to keep people fresh and to allow for Saturday night’s Los Alamos High School prom, things have been going swimmingly during this stretch run.
Tuesday, both the boys and girls teams picked up solid victories over the Tigers, who had been longtime district rivals until this year, when the Tigers dropped down to Class 3A.
Los Alamos’ girls earned a 7-2 victory over Taos, winning all six of the singles matches in their dual at Mesa Courts. Los Alamos’ boys were solid in an 8-1 victory at Urban Park.
This weekend, both teams competed at the Albuquerque Academy Invitational, regarded as the best measuring stick in Class 4A competition for what could happen at the state 4A tournament. Both teams rose to the occasion, finishing second at the tournament with both losing to the likely No. 1 seeds at state.
The recent showings couldn’t have made new Hilltopper boys head coach Billy Wilton much happier.
“It was kind of unknown where we stood,” said Wilton, himself a former standout Hilltopper player. “This weekend we found out how good we were.”
Taos, which had been Los Alamos’ stiffest competition in District 2-4A for virtually the entire last decade before its exit prior to this academic year, still has solid talent on its team, but couldn’t match the 1-6 singles slots of either Hilltopper team, that despite the fact neither Hilltopper squad played its full lineup.
Los Alamos’ Dominic Lucido, playing in the No. 2 position against Taos’ Allen Palmer, had a dominant showing Tuesday. Lucido, who has pushed the other top two singles players on his team, Stephen Townsley and Chase Havemann, throughout practice this season, used the deep corners and sidelines effectively against Palmer to win 6-0, 6-1.
Lucido won four singles matches this weekend as well but said physically he still felt good despite the grueling schedule.
“I feel like I’m in good shape,” said Lucido, who sat out Monday’s dual meet with Española Valley to get in some extra rest. “We’re doing a lot more conditioning at practice this year than we had for the last few years.”
Havemann, Erik Edelmann, Eli Berg and Nikita Belooussov also won in straight sets Tuesday.
The Hilltopper girls were also all straight-set singles winners against the Tigers. Both No. 1 Colleen Fitzsimmons and No. 2 Andrea Hengartner held on through numerous long rallies in their matches against a pair of solid Tiger players, Tessa Zangara and Ariana Voegler, particularly in the second sets of their matches.
Fitzsimmons earned a 6-3, 6-4 win over Zangara and Hengartner defeated Voegler 7-5, 6-2.
Astrid Hengartner, at No. 5 singles, had the toughest contest among the singles players, holding off Tierra Lynch 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.
Susanna Lucido, Nasim Andrews and Gwyn Cunningham were also winners Tuesday.
The Hilltopper girls, who were the 2010 runners-up at state behind Farmington, feel confident heading into the pre-District 2-4A meet, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Santa Fe.
Los Alamos head coach Bruce Cottrell said the team’s biggest competition for a 2-4A title in 2011 will be Santa Fe, the district newcomer that replaced Taos. Los Alamos has handled Española Valley handily in their head-to-head meetings this season, while Capital and Bernalillo will be scraping to even field teams.
“We’ve got a nice team with a good core of players,” Cottrell said. “We’ve been pointing this year to next year toward Farmington. They lose one player (next year). We lose none.”