Tennis: Toppers are the favorites heading into tourney

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LA teams looking to continue their dominance of 2-4A this weekend

By Mike Cote

Usually the question for the Los Alamos Hilltopper tennis teams heading into the district championships is not whether they will win, but how much will they win by.
Unfortunately for the rest of the teams in District 2-4A, 2011 isn’t shaping up to be an exception to that rule.
Both the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys and girls tennis teams will go in as the heavy favorites to continue their domination of District 2-4A Friday. The district tournament starts Friday and continues through Saturday in Santa Fe.
At the district tournament, the district’s team entries into state as well as the individual entries into the singles and doubles draws will be determined.
Los Alamos’ teams will again have the chance to prove their the cream of the district crop and, more importantly clinch a spot in the upcoming state Class 4A tournament.
Since joining District 2-4A in 2000, the two Los Alamos teams have swept team honors and have taken the lion’s share of the individual and doubles accolades as well.
Based on what he’s seen out of his team and the other 2-4A teams this season, Los Alamos boys head coach Billy Wilton said his team should be able to earn another solid victory. He said he’s also hoping to qualify all three of his singles entries and his doubles entries into the state tournament draw.
Picking up a little momentum heading into the state tournament wouldn’t hurt, either.
“The biggest thing I want to continue to see is consistency,” Wilton said. “It’s important at district to play the same way they’re going to play at state. You don’t play down, no matter who you’re playing.”
Los Alamos was actually nipped Wednesday in the final match of its regular season by St. Michael’s. The Horsemen, a very good team in the Class 3A ranks, slipped by the Hilltoppers 5-4.
The Hilltoppers were without No. 4 player Erik Edelmann and No. 5 player Eli Berg for Wednesday’s match.
Hilltopper No. 1 single Stephen Townsley earned the top seed in the singles tournament, while their No. 1 doubles team, Chase Havemann/Dominic Lucido, also earned the top seed in that draw.
Last season, Los Alamos’ boys crushed all comers at the 2-4A meet, sweeping all three of the top singles and doubles slots and cruised to a team championship. Havemann came back from a set down in 2010 against Townsley to win 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Wilton said the prowess of his top three singles, Townsley, Havemann and Lucido is negligible and all three have seen time in the No. 1 slot during the regular season.
For the Hilltopper girls, they will again be a heavy favorite to score team titles and pick up most, if not all, the singles and doubles slots.
Up to this point in 2011, Los Alamos has thumped its district opponents. In four recent head-to-head contests, Los Alamos has won 35 of 36 matches against district opponents.
The Hilltoppers were wary of the Santa Fe Demons heading into the district seeding tournament two weeks ago, but even with the distraction of prom that same weekend, swept the Demons at that tournament, locking up the No. 1 team seed.
At the 2010 district tournament, Los Alamos’ girls swept the singles titles and took two of the three doubles slots.
Los Alamos’ top player, Colleen Fitzsimmons, simply wore down its No. 2 player, Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff, in a grinding two-set match that took nearly three hours to complete. Try as she might, Hsieh-Ratliff struggled to hit the ball past Fitzsimmons, one of the best pure baseline players in the state.