Lady Scorps bring home another tennis trophy

The Farmington and Piedra Vista boys lose in semifinals

The Daily Times

FARMINGTON – The Farmington and Piedra Vista tennis teams’ seasons came to a close at the 5A state tournament Saturday in Albuquerque.

The Farmington girls punched their ticket to the state finals after beating No. 2 Los Alamos 5-2 in the semis, but after that grueling battle with the Lady Hilltoppers, Farmington couldn’t overcome No. 1 Albuquerque Academy, losing 5-0.

The matches against Los Alamos lasted a little more than four hours, but Farmington girls coach Pat McGrath didn’t think the long matches had an impact on the final with Academy.

“It’s part of the day. We’ve had long matches every weekend. Academy was just better than us,” McGrath said. “At the beginning of the year, my goal was to see the girls get to the finals. We had two girls with state experience, and everyone else was brand new. The improvements that the girls have had is just incredible. It was a heck of a win to beat Los Alamos.”

Against Los Alamos, the third-seeded Lady Scorps picked up wins from Elise Ballard, Monica Briones, Riley Coleman and Hailie Nygren in singles. The No. 3 doubles team of Elise Ballard and Michelle McGrath clinched the win over Los Alamos after they battled back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set to take the set 6-4.

On the boys side, Farmington and PV both lost in the semifinals.

The No. 3 Scorps fell to No. 2 Los Alamos 5-3.

“It was another incredible match. We won an incredible one (Friday), and this one was even more so. It had to be a five-hour match,” Farmington boys coach Larry Larson said. “I have nothing but praise for them. They had an absolutely terrific tournament. I told them afterward that I could not have been prouder of them if they won the match.”

Larson said the growth of the Scorps as a team during the course of the season stands out to him the most. He said that while he has coached better tennis players, this group of players is the best team he has been a part of.

“They gave everything they had for each other and for the team all year. They cared about each other,” Larson said.

No. 1 Albuquerque Academy put forth a predictably dominant effort in Saturday's semifinal match-up against No. 5 Piedra Vista. Academy shut the Panthers out 5-0 to move into the final round of the tourney, where the Chargers captured their 14th straight state title.

All three of PV's doubles teams played, as did three singles competitors — Kalani Aligarbes, Pol Nicolai and Zander Halgryn — before Academy won the five matches necessary to advance.

Panthers coach Jenny Baker said her boys came ready to play.

"Our kids didn't back down," she said. "I think they played well. They rose to the level of their competition."

Piedra Vista's boys put together a solid season, with their only team losses coming at the hands of Academy, Los Alamos and Farmington — seeded No. 1, 2 and 3 in the tournament. Baker said the theme of the 2016 season was "team."

"Half our boys were really experienced varsity players, and the other half were fresh, new players, which made for a really good balance," she said. "We only lost to three teams, and everyone else, we beat. We always got a collective effort in our wins."

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.