Toppers rout Tigers, 9-0

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By Mike Cote

With a big win over the Taos Tigers Tuesday, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys tennis team is in-line to pick up a top seed in the District 2 AAAA  tournament.

Los Alamos closed out Taos early Tuesday in their dual at Urban Park, sweeping all six singles matches to win. A win this afternoon against the Española Valley Sundevils will lock up a top seed in the upcoming pre-District 2AAAA tournament if there is any remaining doubt as to which team might get it.

Los Alamos defeated Taos, considered its main district rival, 9-0, plus Hilltopper Misha Skurikhin took his exhibition contest over Taos’ Paolin Messmer.

The Hilltoppers’ big win over the Tigers was a bit of a surprise considering the last time the team met, March 28 in Taos, the match wasn’t decided until the bitter end. Hilltopper Kirk Webber came back from an early tiebreak deficit against Jonathan Jones at No. 4 singles to give the Hilltoppers a 5-4 win.

Perhaps the big difference-maker at Tuesday’s contest was No. 1 single Patrick Raichur.

Things have been going rather swimmingly for the Hilltopper squad this season, although for Raichur there have been a couple of rough spots.

Raichur is returning from off-season shoulder surgery. While he is mostly back to full strength, it took him awhile to get his sea legs again.

“I’m playing pretty well,” Raichur said. “The season started off slowly. It took awhile to get my game back all the way, but it’s starting to get back.”

Raichur got off to a slow start against Taos’ Robbie Forbes, a player whom Raichur said has made significant strides from last season when he played at No. 2 singles for the Tigers. Forbes took the first set handily, winning 6-1, but Raichur came back to sweep the second and third sets to pick up the victory.

The two spent much of the third set hammering away from the baseline. Raichur got some strong first serves in against Forbes, handcuffing him on more than one occasion to help secure the win in the third set.

In doubles, Raichur and partner Chase Havemann earned a solid straight-set win over Forbes and Magnus Nelson.

Raichur said he’s more concerned about success in doubles this season and thinks he and Havemann, a sophomore, have a good chance to go a long way in the Class AAAA state doubles tournament next month.

“Each week we’re getting better, a little more solid,” he said.

Matt Whicker, who topped Forbes at the March 28 tournament playing up at No. 1 singles, shut out Taos’ No. 2 single Magnus Nelson Tuesday to help get the Hilltoppers rolling.

Ben Havemann, Chase Havemann and Dominic Lucido were all straight-set winners in singles play Tuesday. Stephen Townsley staved off a comeback attempt against Taylor Braselle at No. 4 singles to win in a third-set tiebreaker.

The Hilltoppers have been on a roll of late, picking up a pair of wins at Friday’s Albuquerque Academy Invitational, topping Silver and Farmington by a combined 17-1. Saturday’s events were rained out, effectively derailing Los Alamos’ chance to get into the tournament finals.

Here are Tuesday’s results:

Los Alamos 9, Taos 0


No. 1: Patrick Raichur, Los Alamos, def. Robbie Forbes, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

No. 2: Matt Whicker, Los Alamos, def. Magnus Nelson, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 3: Ben Havemann, Los Alamos, def. John Laycock, 6-0, 7-5.

No. 4: Stephen Townsley, Los Alamos, def. Taylor Braselle, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5).

No. 5: Chase Havemann, Los Alamos, def. Johnathan Jones, 6-1, 6-0.

No. 6: Dominic Lucido, Los Alamos, def. Elan Bauer, 6-2, 6-1.

Exhibition: Misah Skurikhin, Los Alamos, def. Paolin Messmer, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.


No. 1: Raichur/C. Havemann def. Forbes/Nelson, 6-3, 6-3.

No. 2: Whicker/Townsley def. Laycock/Braselle, 6-4, 6-4.

No. 3: Kirk Webber/Eli Berg def. Jones/Bauer, 6-1, 6-2.