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By Mike Cote

TAOS — It was a small victory over Mother Nature, but one noteworthy enough to even catch the time.


At 6:21 p.m. Thursday, Los Alamos cleared the final piece of ice off the Mesa Tennis Courts in Los Alamos. While that means the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls tennis team has yet to get a full practice in this season, it seems it may now finally get that opportunity.

“These tournaments have been our practice,” Hilltopper head coach Bruce Cottrell said.

This weekend, the Los Alamos girls took part in the Quail Ridge Invitational here, where they knocked off the host Taos Tigers Friday but fell to Farmington and Denver Mullen Saturday.

Los Alamos was blanked in its contest with the Farmington Scorpions, which started late Friday afternoon, was pushed back to late morning Saturday – a light Friday night snowfall necessitated a thorough squeegee of the Quail Ridge Inn courts.

Farmington, the defending Class AAAA champion with the bulk of that team returning for the 2010 season, looked solid Saturday morning, particularly No. 1 single Kamy Blackwood, who was playing near-flawless tennis against Los Alamos’ top player, Brenna O’Hara.

Blackwood surrendered just two points through the first five games of her match with O’Hara, featuring some solid serving in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Blackwood, who was half of the top Class AAAA doubles team at the state tournament last season, took the contest 6-0, 6-0.

O’Hara, one of just two seniors on the Hilltoppers’ squad this season, is returning to action despite nagging shoulder problems this offseason.

While Farmington proved to be a tough draw early in the tournament for the Hilltoppers, Cottrell said his singles players need to see some tough competition.

“We’ve played a bunch of matches and have been shaky in singles,” he said. “We’re not doing bad in doubles.”

Tori Merrion, playing at No. 2 singles, was also effective despite a steady effort from Hilltopper freshman Colleen Fitzsimmons, who was playing at No. 2 singles.

Fitzsimmons handled Merrion’s serve well throughout much of their contest – she had a break point early in the first set and would actually break Merrion’s serve later in the set – but Merrion still went on to a straight-set victory.

Against Mullen, Los Alamos fell 5-2, with Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff and No. 4 doubles team Gwynn Cunningham/Nasim Andrews coming out victorious.

Friday, the Hilltoppers downed the Tigers 6-1, winning two of the three singles contests and sweeping the four doubles match-ups.

Fitzsimmons came back from a set down to top Taos’ Arianna Voegler, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in No. 2 singles action, while the doubles teams of Andrea Hentgartner/Beth Wendelberger and Cunningham/Andrews dropped just two games during their matches against Taos.

Also as part of the tournament, Los Alamos played Española Valley. That contest featured several players from Los Alamos that didn’t make the trip to Taos hosting the Sundevils. Los Alamos prevailed in that contest.