Farmington's Coleman earns all-star nod

FHS senior is the only all-star from the San Juan County area

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — Before Farmington's Riley Coleman closes the book on her high school tennis career, she'll hit the court one last time and compete in this year's Red vs. Blue All-Star Tennis matches.

Farmington senior Riley Coleman plays against Piedra Vista sophomore Alyssa Baker on April 19 at the Farmington Sports Complex.

Coleman was the only player from San Juan County — male or female — to make an all-star team. The senior, who was selected to the Blue Team, co-captained the Lady Scorpions in 2016 with doubles partner Hailie Nygren.

Competing mostly from the No. 2 singles spot, Coleman went 14-3 as an individual last season. She and Nygren went 13-3 in doubles, and Coleman was 16-6 overall with a partner.

FHS coach Pat McGrath informed Coleman earlier this week that she had earned all-star honors for the first time in her high school career.

"I always wanted to make it, but I knew our state was really good with girls like Melissa Pick and Dani Apodaca from Albuquerque Academy," Coleman said. "So I didn't know how good of a chance I had to make it, but I was really excited when coach McGrath told me the good news."

The format of the all-star game had been North vs. South until this year. Since the outcomes have been lopsided in the North's favor in recent years, the selection committee of coaches decided to do a draft in 2016 to level the playing field.

The Red and Blue teams consist of 12 players — six males and six females — and this year's rosters are split evenly between students from northern schools and southern schools. Interstate 40 divides the North and South in tennis.

Nygren is the No. 1 alternate should a northern girl from either team have to back out of the matches for any reason.

McGrath, who was one of the coaches picking for the Blue Team, said he believes Coleman's ability on the tennis court spoke for itself this season.

"She has very, very quick hands. She's a good doubles player who likes playing doubles, and she has the ability to dig stuff out from her toes, just 'cause her hands are so quick," McGrath said. "And she was a lot faster than I thought she was. She showed me a lot of speed this year that I didn't know she possessed."

Coleman and Nygren were the only two seniors on Farmington's roster in 2016 and the only girls with state experience. Coleman said that made the season trying at times, but she was happy with the effort by year's end.

"I was a little nervous about this season just because all the girls I ever played with moved on," she said. "We had a really young team, but everyone worked hard, and it was a really fun season."

The matches run from June 9-11 in Rio Rancho. There will be 12 singles matches, six doubles matches and three mixed doubles matches over the course of three days.

A month removed from the end of the state tournament, Coleman said she's a little bit rusty, but doesn't expect the all-star matches to be too intense.

"I haven't been practicing like I probably should have been," she said. "But my (former) teammates who played in it before like Liza Briody-Pavlik say it's really fun and laid back."

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