The Lady Eagles sealed their spot at the top of District 5-4A tennis, clinching the district title at the conclusion of the Round Robin Duals at Belen High School.
“The kids have played well all season. Injuries were a big factor in a few of our matches,” said Belen head coach Barbara Grega. “That didn’t stop anyone from playing their best. I’m very proud of how everyone played.”
Belen began the tournament with two 8-1 wins over St. Pius and Grants. On Thursday, the Lady Eagles breezed past Valencia with a 9-0 win. Due to inclement weather, they had to postpone their round robin finale with Los Lunas until the next week.
In the meantime, the Lady Eagles found themselves in a rough spot at the Academy Invite in Albuquerque. In the non-district tournament leading up to their district-clinching win, they fell to St. Michael’s 5-2 and Piedra Vista 7-2. However, when they returned to Belen on Monday, they decisively beat Los Lunas 8-1.
Notably, Belen No. 1 doubles duo Roma Cordova and Monica Mondragon beat Jessica Apodaca and Kylie Collins 6-0 in two sets during the Los Lunas match. Grega said Cordova has been an integral leader this season.
“Roma works hard at her tennis,” said Grega. “She puts in many hours of practice each week, and gives everything she’s got.”
Grega also credited Riley Cordova and Madison Good as important parts of the girls’ squad, but mentioned that everyone “stuck out at one time or another.”
On the boys’ side, the Eagles finished as runner-up for the district title. They began the round robin with a narrow 5-4 loss to eventual-district champions at St. Pius, but bounced back with a pair of 8-1 wins over Grants and Valencia. The Eagles finished the round robin with a 7-2 victory over Los Lunas. Individually, No. 1 singles player junior William Chavez sealed a win over Los Lunas’ Hunter Williamson in two sets.
“Will has been hitting more consistent this year,” said Grega. “He should be No. 1 at district.”
Grega also mentioned that Belen could receive a wildcard berth in the state tournament.
Up next for both Belen squads is a match against Grants on April 27. Then, it’s on to district individuals and the state tournament.
Valencia sits at fourth place for boys’ district, while Los Lunas sits at fifth. For the girls, Valencia is at fifth place and Los Lunas is at seventh.
As the season winds down for the Jaguars, head coach Matt Castillo is happy with the team’s progress and expects more growth in years to come.
“With only our third year as a varsity program, we’re making exponential strides as far as competing with top echelon teams,” said Castillo. “Every year, we’re gaining more experience as well as interest in tennis. We’re a year or two away from being a top team.”
Valencia’s next match will be Friday at the Espanola Tri-Meet. Los Lunas’ next match will be at the district individuals.