Motivated by a guitar gig, the Belen High School’s No. 1 girls tennis duo of Kristin Elkins and Clarita Valdez plucked past Del Norte’s top doubles team to give the Lady Eagles a 3-2 win over the visiting Knights on Thursday.
Elkins and Valdez played longer than a Phish concert, winning a marathon match in three sets over the course of three hours.
Lady Eagle head coach Regina Elkins, Kristin’s grandmother, said the girls were feeling a bit high-strung as the match wore on. Kristin had to get to a guitar recital that night.
“As badly as (Kristin) wanted to get off the court to get to that guitar recital, I think that’s what did it,” coach Elkins said. “She just got more aggressive.
“And little Clarita, she was a trooper. She kept telling her ‘It’s OK, Kristin, it’s OK, Kristin — you’ll get there, you’ll get there. Don’t worry about it.'”
The Belen girls came back to beat Del Norte’s Mel Brinonez and Ivana Moquito 6-4 in the second set and take them into a tie-breaker in the finale. Elkins and Valdez won the encore 7-5 to take the match.
“I don’t usually (get nervous) — I guess it was partly emotional because my granddaughter was playing — but my hands were shaking. My hands haven’t shaken for a match like that in years,” the coach said.
Belen’s other two points came from its No. 2 doubles team of SooJee Clauss and Katrina Sanchez, who won their match 6-2, 6-4, and Izumi Kurimoto, who beat Del Norte’s Puja Patel, 6-1, 6-3, in a battle of foreign exchange students at No. 3 singles.
“I was really happy,” coach Elkins said. “I didn’t think we would beat them.”
The Lady Eagles improved to 2-2 while the Lady Knights lost their first match of the season and dropped to 4-1.
Belen’s boys had a much easier time at the courts at Belen’s Multi-Purpose Park, sweeping the Knights, 5-0.