FHS, PV tennis teams turn focus to team tourney

Karl Schneider, and Jake Newby
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – The Farmington and Piedra Vista boys and girls tennis teams didn't come away with any individual champions at the 5A state tennis tournament, but they did turn in solid performances to set themselves up for the team portion, which takes place today and Saturday in Albuquerque.

The Lady Panthers doubles team of Samantha Begay and Angelica Sabol went into the individual tourney with the No. 4 seed and easily got past an unseeded pair from Goddard on Wednesday in straight sets. Begay and Sabol then drew Centennial's Alberson sisters — Carrie and Christa — in the quarterfinals and lost 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday. No. 1 Centennial went on to win the doubles tourney.

PV sophomore Alyssa Baker drew Albuquerque Academy's Dani Apodaca, the same girl who toppled Baker 6-0, 6-0 earlier this season, in the opening round. PV coach Allison Goff said Baker's goal was to take a couple games from Apodaca, and she succeeded, losing 6-0, 6-2 this time around.

"You know you did something right any time the Albuquerque Academy coach actually goes to the fence to talk to her player," Goff said. "So, it was progress for Alyssa."

Farmington’s Emily Nguyen, the No. 4 seed, lost to eventual state champion Melissa Pick of Albuquerque Academy in the semifinals. But Nguyen bounced back in the third-place match, winning a two-hour, three-set match 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

No. 6 seed Elise Ballard of Farmington lost to No. 3 Sidra Hsieh-Ratliff of Los Alamos in the quarterfinals. Ballard pushed Hsieh-Ratliff to a tiebreaker in the first set, but couldn’t keep the intensity in the second set and fell 7-6 (4), 6-0.

In doubles, Farmington’s Riley Coleman and Hailie Nygren, the No. 4 seed, were bounced by No. 5 Lauryn Anaya and Katya Shurikhin of Los Alamos 6-3, 6-3 during the quarterfinals.

Farmington head coach Pat McGrath said Anaya and Shurikhin were the more aggressive duo, causing Coleman and Nygren to play on their heels and hit returns off their back foot.

On the boys side, PV coach Jenny Baker said she was proud of her No.1 doubles pair of Zander Halgryn and Kalani Aligarbes, which battled hard the past two days to come away with a fourth-place overall finish.

Aligarbes and Halgryn, seeded No. 4, faced an unseeded Albuquerque Academy team Wednesday and won 6-3, 6-2, then went on to best No. 4 Lovington 6-4, 6-0, before falling in the semis against Academy's No. 1 duo on Thursday.

The match to decide the third- and fourth-place placers between PV and Los Alamos went the Hilltoppers way 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that lasted just over two hours.

"We've been battling against that Los Alamos team all season. We've had real low scores against them," Baker said. "It was long, long points (today), which is unusual in doubles. We definitely made them earn it."

Kyler Edwards entered the tournament unseeded and actually took an early lead, but lost the match on Wednesday to Academy's Henry Collis.

Farmington’s Ned Merrion, the No. 4 seed, advanced to the semifinals before losing to Albuquerque Academy’s eventual champion Malachi Coleman 6-2, 6-0. Merrion then fell in the third-place match 6-3, 6-3 to Academy’s Jack Apodaca.

Sol Rascon advanced out of the first round Wednesday with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Los Alamos’s JD Downing, before losing to Coleman 6-0, 6-0 in the quarters on Thursday.

Farmington’s doubles team of Nate Benson and Andrew Moss advanced to the quarterfinals, but fell 6-0, 6-1 to Academy’s Hunter Hootman and Coleton Hootman, who went on to win the title.

The No. 3 Farmington girls will play No. 6 St. Pius in the team potion of the tournament today.

PV's girls, the No. 5 seed in the team tourney, plays Centennial today.

The Farmington boys, seeded third, will play No. 6 Santa Teresa in the first round.

The Panthers drew the fifth seed and will play No. 4 Lovington, the same school they defeated 9-0 in the first round last year.

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

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.