Belen tennis has good early season start

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The Belen boys tennis team has had an outstanding start to the season, going 6-1 with an impressive upset of Volcano Vista at the APS Quads.

Their only loss of the year was in Tuesday’s visit to Alamogordo. The Tigers won five singles matches and all three doubles to take an 8-1 win.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Belen Senior Jonathan Getner serves during a recent home match with Rio Rancho. The Eagle tennis boys are off to a 6-1 start, while the girls team is 3-4. Both clubs have faced mostly class 5A schools to get ready for district competition.

The girls team has a 3-4 mark, finishing second at the APS quads and dropping the match at Alamogordo, 7-2.

Three senior boys have led the way for Belen. Matt Becker is the top singles player, followed by junior Gilbert Devlin. Andres Salas is in the singles line up and senior Jonathan Getner is a stabilizing force for the team, but has not seen action in the top six singles slots yet this season.

“We have four key tennis players,” said coach Gary Elkins. “Those four boys are the core. They are the returning people from last year. We are building around them.”

Becker, Devlin and Salas are joined by sophomore Phillip Carillo at the top of the lineup. Becker and Devlin team up to form the top doubles combination for Belen, and Salas and Carillo are the No. 2 doubles team.

The girls are led by two seniors, Elizabeth Martinez and Melanie Martinez. Megan Jaramillo, Esperanza Hererra and Mariam Mojtabai are the top five singles on the girls side.

Elizabeth Martinez teams up with Jaramillo to form the top Eagle girls doubles combination.

Both teams will be in action on Saturday at the APS Triangular. The boys will be at Eldorado High School and will face the host Eagles and Volcano Vista.

Elkins noted that the win over the Hawks in the APS Quads was their best effort so far against a quality 5A tennis team.

“To me, that was very impressive. The boys really gave their all,” said Elkins.

The coach is hoping for a similar result Saturday, but is not counting it as a win just yet.

“We play up in Albuquerque again,” said Elkins. “We played Volcano Vista and I was impressed with the win. We had close matches, so they could win this time. It is just that close.”

He noted that the girls have had a tough week, following a second place finish to Volcano Vista in the APS Quads with a tough road loss to Alamogordo.

“Volcano Vista was a very good team,” said Elkins, explaining that the team is improving under the leadership of girls coach Barbara Griego. “They did well against Atrisco and Highland.”

The boys opened the season with a close 5-4 win over Rio Rancho at the Belen High School tennis complex. The girls fell to the visiting Rams, 6-3.

“The kids come out and play tennis,” said Elkins, explaining the team’s philosophy. “They enjoy the game, but we don’t have anyone in the great southwest (rankings). It is seasonal for us. It is not year round.”

He explained that with district matches quickly approaching, he is hoping that the tough matches against Class 5A schools will help give the Eagles an edge against Piedra Vista and Farmington.

“We have always been competitive,” said Elkins. “We may not win every match, but they know that they have played us.”

Elkins did say that the team is using a new website for keeping stats and providing information to the public.

“We are posting everything on www.maxpreps.com. That way, the parents, or anyone really, can look us up online and get all of the stats for our players,” said Elkins.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.