FARMINGTON — Emily Nguyen’s legacy as a state championship-caliber tennis player lives on.
The Farmington junior has placed fourth or better in the New Mexico Activities Association Casas Del Rio state girls singles tournament in each of her four seasons of prep competition, including a spot in tonight’s 5A girls singles finals in Albuquerque.
The top-seeded Nguyen, last year's 5A girls singles champion, lost to No. 2 seed Karolina Mlezivova in three sets (7-5, 6-2, 6-4). However, Nguyen has now reached the state championship match in back-to-back seasons.
“She’s improved quite a lot. She’s really turned it up (around mid-season). Her ground strokes are getting much stronger, more aggressive. Backhand down the line is very pretty,” Lady Scorpions coach Pat McGrath said.
Nguyen, who is also this year’s top-seeded 5A girls singles player, took down Chaparral’s Bethsaida Gomez (6-0, 6-0) and Goddard’s Lilli DeGroot (6-0, 6-0) on Wednesday. Nguyen then beat Roswell’s Evelyn Williams, the No. 4 seed in the 5A girls singles bracket, in today’s semifinals (6-2, 6-2).
Nguyen faced Valencia’s Karolina Mlezivova, the No. 2 seed in the 5A girls singles bracket, in Thursday’s 5A state finals.
In his 24 years coaching the Lady Scorpions, McGrath said Nguyen is at least the third or fourth player to place fourth or better at state in multiple seasons. And Nguyen still has one more year of high school tennis left.
“I get to watch her play and excel. I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s very special,” McGrath said.
Farmington’s Ethan Nguyen also reaches 5A finals
Although his state tournament run ended today with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to top-seeded Abraham Yohannes of Albuquerque Academy, Nguyen has a bright future ahead of him.
The Scorpion eighth-grader reached the 5A state championships match, thanks to some powerful ground strokes Wednesday and Thursday.
“He places them very well. He gets the big kid (to) run. He just puts a lot of pressure on them,” Scorps coach Larry Larson said. “He anticipates well. He gets ahead of the ball. He angles the ball well.”
Nguyen, the third-seeded 5A boys singles player, beat Los Alamos players Sam Menefee (6-2, 6-4) and Donald Poston (6-2, 7-6) on Wednesday. Nguyen then topped Lovington’s Jace Crawford, the No. 2 seed, 6-4 and 6-0 in today’s semifinals.
Larson said Nguyen’s prior off-season tournament experience playing in cities like Phoenix, El Paso and Tuscon helped him prepare for tougher competition at state.
All-Farmington girls doubles finals
The top-seeded Farmington duo of Monica Briones and Arin Coleman reached today’s doubles finals to take on teammates Anna Briones and Eliza Merrion, who were the No. 2 seed coming in.
Monica Briones and Coleman won the title (6-4, 7-6).