Just prior to the beginning of the district season, Belen High School tennis coach Regina Elkins predicted the Eagle boys would win the District 3-4A title — unless something drastic happened.
“Something drastic has happened,” she said referring to a shoulder injury suffered by Belen’s best player, junior Derek Lynch. “We did not anticipate it happening. But an injury, we can’t do anything about it.”
The wounded wing may have already cost the Eagles a district championship. Without Lynch, the Belen boys lost a home match, 5-4, to Deming on Friday.
Even their state playoff hopes are in jeopardy. Now the Eagles must beat Silver, last year’s district champs, at Silver City on Saturday in order to finish as district runners-up and earn a berth in next month’s state tournament.
Elkins said Lynch may pass up Thursday’s non-district match at Española Valley to rest his shoulder. She was not certain if he’d be able to play by Saturday.
“But the boys can still do it,” she said. “We’re just going to have to work very hard.”
Against Deming, Belen got wins from its No. 4, 5 and 6 singles players — Nick Rodriguez, Daniel Garcia and Ray Feldbusch — and also from its No. 3 doubles team of Garcia and Abraham Anderson.
The outcome rested on the No. 3 singles match between Belen’s Charles Montoya and Deming’s Jimmy Hughes. The match went three close sets, with Hughes winning 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Belen’s girls tennis team was eliminated from state tournament contention with an 8-1 loss to Deming. The Lady Eagles only winner was No. 6 singles player Clarita Valdez.
“Things aren’t looking real good for the girls, but we’ll be OK,” Elkins said. “We’ve lost a lot of players; we’ll just play the best we can.”