Panthers nab first in Rio Rancho Quad

FHS girls suffer first loss in more than two years

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — Ahead of their reclassification to District 1-6A next year, the Piedra Vista tennis teams proved that not only can they hang with the 6A competition, but they can conquer it.


The PV boys were victorious in Saturday's Rio Rancho quad, defeating Hope Christian 6-3, and then Rio Rancho and Cleveland both by finals of 7-2.

PV's girls just missed out on first place, beating Hope 8-1, losing to Rio Rancho 5-4 and then bouncing back to shut down Cleveland 9-0 to take second in the quad.

Senior Kalani Aligarbes stepped up in a major way for PV as the Panthers were missing their usual No. 1 and No. 3 singles competitors Zander Halgryn and Pol Nicolai. As a result, Aligarbes moved up from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles where he thrived by winning all three of his matches.

Panthers coach Jenny Baker said she was pleased at how her players stepped up with many students missing because of spring break.

"We mostly got it done in singles, and it was really nice to see the depth of our team rise up," Baker said.

Riley Hill, Spencer Hill and Justin Allen all moved up in singles competition to fill voids, and they picked up key wins during different parts of the quad for PV.

The Piedra Vista girls' run in Rio Rancho was ultimately decided by PV's loss to Rio Rancho at No. 1 doubles.

Devan Eaton and Jnell Hylton of Rio Rancho defeated PV's No. 1 doubles team of Samantha Begay and Angelica Sabol.

Lady Panthers coach Allison Goff said she thought the weather was a factor on the match's outcome.

"There was some crazy wind all day long, but especially during that match," Goff said. "I think Rio Rancho's girls handled it better than ours did. Had the weather been different, the outcome of the entire match may have been different, too."

Both PV teams have a quirky schedule next weekend, as they start off on Friday morning in Española Valley for a dual then play at Capital High School on Friday afternoon and close out the weekend by returning to Española Valley on Saturday for an individual tournament.

Farmington's girls suffered their first team loss in more than two years over the weekend, falling 6-3 to Los Alamos on Saturday in the finals of the Taos multi-team tournament.

Pat McGrath's team made quick work of Española Valley, Taos and Palo Duro, Texas, downing them all 9-0 to setup the showdown with Los Alamos.

FHS lost two of the three doubles matches, and in singles, Emily Nguyen won at No. 1 singles in straight sets. Four of the other five singles sets split after going to tiebreakers. Monica Briones was the only Lady Scorpion to win her tiebreaker.

McGrath said he hopes his payers can finally start building some chemistry and unite as a team.

"We should have bonded together by now but (our teams) have barely played with the same person," McGrath said.

The Scorpion boys team also lost to Los Alamos in the finals and had to settle for second. FHS topped Palo Duro, Texas, 8-1, Española Valley 9-0 and Taos 7-2 before falling to Los Alamos 5-4.

The finalists split the singles matches on Friday and then went to the wire in doubles on Saturday. Los Alamos won two of the three doubles sets, both of which went to a tiebreaker.

No. 6 singles player Khaleel Hollingsworth was moved up to No. 4 singles twice and won both times. He went 2-1 in the tourney and impressed his coach.

"He was exceptional for us," Larry Larson said of Hollingsworth. "He competed well for us when we needed him most."

Ned Merrion went 3-0 at No. 1 singles and 2-1 at No. 1 doubles.

Farmington's girls and boys squads play Santa Fe Prep on the road at 3 p.m. on Friday. The Lady Scorpions will compete in the Los Alamos Invite on Saturday while the FHS boys play in Española Valley.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.