FARMINGTON — Farmington High's girls' tennis team hasn't lost a match to a New Mexico opponent since 2009.
And that record will be tested this weekend in Albuquerque.
The Lady Scorpions have gone 117-0 as a team against in-state competition since 2009. Their only losses came at a national tournament in Kentucky last year.
“That definitely adds to the pressure, but it is a really cool thing,” said Molly Merrion, Farmington High senior and No. 1 singles player, of the streak.
But, this weekend, Farmington High isn't favored to win the Albuquerque Academy Invitational. That distinction goes to Academy.
“Academy is the best team right now in the state. They have four very good players, but I think our five and six singles are better than their five and six,” said Farmington High head coach Pat McGrath. “But their one through four, we have to get one or two (wins) out of there if we want to win.”
The Chargers have two singles state champs on their roster with No. 1 singles player Melissa Pick, a freshman, and senior and No. 2 singles player Ksenia Bosina.
“I just don't know really how we stack up against them,” McGrath said.
To get to Academy, the Lady Scorpions have to get out of their pool of Bosque, Goddard and Santa Fe High on Friday and Saturday. Farmington has already defeated all three teams in its pool in tournaments earlier this season.
If Farmington gets out of pool play unscathed, the record would extend to 120 consecutive wins before the team faces the Chargers.
“I don't know. It is really hard to say right now,” Merrion said when asked if the streak would reach 121. “I understand the competition will be really tough this weekend with Academy, but I do know we have a strong team with strong girls, and I think it is possible if we really play well.”
Merrion was an eighth-grader in 2009 when the team started the streak. Though she has taken individual losses through the years, she has never lost a team competition.
“It has been so much fun the whole journey. Starting the senior year, I thought about everything that has already happened,” Merrion said. “We have had so many strong players before me and such a strong team that I always expected the older girls to come through. It is different this year being top on the team and helping the younger girls get to that same level of play. ... It helps knowing what our team has gone through the last five years and knowing we have made it this far. We are just trying to get that record higher.”
Molly Merrion is also the last Merrion remaining on the team. Her sisters and cousins who also played for the Lady Scorpions have graduated.
“I feel the pressure, especially since it has been my cousins and older sisters who have played here and won all those matches,” she said.
The Lady Scorpions graduated four of their top six players from last year's state championship team, but Merrion and sophomore Danielle Nguyen have returned with valuable experience to lead the team.
“Danielle is a great role model. She has experienced wins with our team, and she is taking a leading role on the team, too,” Merrion said.
McGrath will rely on the leadership and knowledge of Merrion and Nguyen this weekend. If Farmington High faces Academy, McGrath will miss the match while he attends his son's confirmation in Farmington.
“The problem is I won't get to see the match. It will be up to Molly and Coach (Larry) Larson to give me an idea of what to expect from Academy at state because I won't get to see them,” McGrath said. “(Merrion) has the experience. Her and Danielle Nguyen. Those two girls have been in the state tournament, and Nguyen has a ton of (U.S. Tennis Association) experience. The two of them will be fine."
Merrion said she is excited to earn a chance to face Albuquerque Academy once before the state championship match.
“It is the first time we will be able to see them before state and then we won't again until state. It is good to see what they have and see what we can do with them to get ready for state,” she said. “Whether we do well against them or not, it is good to see what they have. It should be fun.”
John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.