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Tennis: Topper teams knock off Tigers in dual play

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By Mike Cote

While most coaches would think Bruce Cottrell is in an enviable position, Cottrell would beg to differ.With just four days to finalize his lineup for the postseason, Cottrell is scratching his head about a couple of his Hilltopper girls tennis players. While most of his lineup is good shape, at least one and possibly two of his athletes might not be playing well enough to make the cut by Sunday’s deadline to file the lineups with the New Mexico Activities Association, they could very well be ready by April 30, which was the old deadline.Cottrell, the head coach of the girls tennis team, did breathe something of a sigh of relief when five of his six singles players won their matches during Tuesday’s dual against Taos.With those five victories, Cottrell could let some of his less-experienced players play in the doubles contests instead of putting his strongest doubles lineup in.Los Alamos’ girls won the head-to-head with Taos 5-4 at the home dual, held at the Mesa Complex courts.Meanwhile, over at Urban Park courts Tuesday, Los Alamos’ boys won a decisive 7-2 dual over Taos, taking five singles contests and two of the three doubles matches.Ben Havemann had a big day for the Hilltopper boys. Havemann held off Magnum Nelson in the second set of No. 2 singles to take a 6-3, 7-5 win, then with doubles partner Patrick Raichur, cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Nelson/John Laycock.Mike Lyon at No. 3, Jason Grider at No. 4, Sean Erickson at No. 5 and Chase Havemann at No. 6 were all straight-set winners Tuesday.Stephen Townsley and partner Daniel Trugman also picked up a straight set win Tuesday, downing Jonathan Jones/Eric Christian 6-3, 6-1.Townsley said he feels he and Trugman, who have only played a few matches together, are quickly turning into a solid tandem.“It’s really good,” he said. “We’re both really good doubles players. He’s got strong serves and strong volleys, and I’ve got strong serves and strong volleys.”With the win, Los Alamos improved to 6-2 on the season in head-to-head play.Los Alamos went into Tuesday’s match off a solid sixth-place finish at this weekend’s Albuquerque Academy Invitational, in which Matt Whicker and Grider had big showings for the Hilltoppers in singles play.The Hilltopper girls went into Tuesday off a win at Academy, a tournament considered a precursor to the state tournament. The ’Toppers edged the host Charger by a team score of 19-18.Grace Kim, Brenna O’Hara, Chesly Smith, Elyse Jalbert and Lauren Castro, playing 2-6 singles, were all winners over Taos, with only Castro needing more than two sets to come out on top.Kim, who missed playing time due to spring break and then caught a cold immediately afterward, said she was pleased with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Jessica Christian at No. 2 singles, particularly after what she thought were some disappointing finishes recently.“I was pretty determined to win this match,” Kim said. “At Taos I didn’t do so well…At first I was a little shaky, but my forehand was more aggressive. I wanted to finish the match off, so I kept my feet going and I knew where to place the ball.”Jeena Kim lost at No. 1 singles Tuesday to Erica Dimond, and the Hilltoppers dropped all three doubles matches, with Megan Townsley/O’Hara falling to Dimond/Lauren Kenward, Desta Shelley/Sarah Worland falling to Christian/Alex Cancro and Elise Dinehart/Noopur Goyal falling to Olivia Cancro/Kamal Jahrmarkt.The teams will see each other at the pre-district tournament Saturday, which Capital will host.