Belen’s Riley Cordova and Isabella Jaramillo made the school’s first appearance in a state championship game in over 25 years but ultimately came up short of a state title in girls’ individual doubles.

The duo, who were the No. 2 seed in the NMAA state tennis tournament, fell to the No. 1 seeded St. Michael’s pairing of Mariela Rigales and Hannah Garcia in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5.

To get to the championship match on Saturday, Cordova and Jaramillo had to win two matches on Thursday. They won their first match 6-0, 7-5 over the Santa Teresa duo of Ana Duval and Reanna Rapanut in the first round to earn a matchup with the No. 3 seeded Baca/Mahr pairing from Albuquerque Academy, the tournament hosts.

Belen struggled early in the match and lost the first set 6-2. However, they regained their earlier form and battled back to win set two 6-4 before taking the deciding third set 7-6 to reach the title match.

On the boys side, district champion Xavier Castillo of Valencia had the best showing of the county boys.
Castillo was the only one to advance past his first round match, which he achieved with an upset of Lovington’s  Cristian Mendoza, the No. 4 seeded player in the field, 7-6, 6-2.

The two battled back and forth in the first set and coming out on top propelled Castillo to a relatively easy match win in the second set, when he was clearly the superior player.

For his efforts, Castillo earned a meeting with Owen Dooley of Los Alamos, who came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the bracket and cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win in his first match of the day.

Castillo struggled against the top seeded Dooley and dropped the match in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1.

Xavier Castillo of Valencia returns a save during a match at the state individuals tennis tournament. Castillo upset his first round opponent to advance to the quarterfinals.

Dooley went on to fall in three sets in the state title game.

Isaiah Castillo also qualified for the field as an at-large player and fell in his first round match with eventual state champion Joseph Braun of Academy, 6-0, 6-2.

Taylor Wright and Santiago Silva of Belen appeared in the boys doubles bracket as district champs but lost their first round matchup against Teel/Corrales of Lovington.

The team competition began on Tuesday when the Belen boys traveled to Los Alamos for their first round match and the result was unavailable before News-Bulletin deadline.

The Belen girls will host Artesia as the No. 3 seed on Thursday, June 17, at 2 p.m.

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Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.