Belen duo Becker and Devlin fall in 1st round odf state

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Belen High School double tennis duo Matthew Becker and Gilbert Devlin got off to a strong start but could not solve the service of Las Cruces Centennial High School duo Chris Palmer and Jackson Sosin, falling 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Class 4A State Doubles Tennis Tournament at the Jerry Cline Tennis Center in Albuquerque last Wednesday.

Becker and Devlin kept the match even early on, standing at 3-3 before Palmer and Sosin broke Decker’s serve to take a 4-3 lead on their way to winning the first set.

Kenn Rodriguez/News-Bulletin photo: Belen High School senior Matthew Becker, left, serves and junior Gilbert Devlin awaits the return during the duo’s Class 4A State Double Tennis match on Wednesday, May 8, in Albuquerque.

“I think after they broke our serve the first time it dropped our confidence level and we had a hard time getting it back up,” Becker said after the match. “We definitely were nervous and we definitely tensed up.

“I know Gilbert and I both did. We both started going for too much and then it kind of fell apart,” he said.

Palmer and Sosin jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set but Becker, a senior, and Devlin, a junior for the Eagles, rallied.

“Our coach, Gary, he told us ‘Just place the ball, don’t go for too much,” said Becker. “(He said) ‘Just place it where they’re not.’ The two games we won, we started doing that. We just couldn’t break their serve.”

The disappointment at state followed the duo’s high point – a second-place finish at the District 4-4A Tournament in Farmington on May 4.

The duo beat Austin Denny and Brandon Adair of Farmington Piedra Vista 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.

Devlin took ill before the final and the Belen duo fell 6-1, 6-1 to eventual District and State champions Curtis Hunt and Nathaniel Pavlin of Farmington High School in the District championship match.

“In our match against PV, we went to three sets and that was definitely the best we played all season,” Devlin said. “We started hitting our shots, got our confidence up. They started going for too much – kind of like we did here. It was fun.”

Becker, will be attending Ohio State University in the fall and expects to play intramural tennis and concentrate on school and his major, bioengineering.

Devlin, will be one of five seniors on the Belen High squad next year and will likely move primarily to singles play.

“Hopefully I can make it back here by myself,” Devlin said. “It’s going to be tough (to make it to state). We haven’t been here (as a team) in a while.

“There were a lot of young players (on the team) this year,” said Becker. “They gained some valuable experience. So maybe next year we’ll have a little better of a team and they can take that and make it to State.”

Becker and Devlin said they’re both sorry to see their playing days together come to an end, but said they have no regrets.

It’s been fun,” Becker said. “This was only our second year playing doubles together. I think we’ve improved a lot. “It’s sad that I’m a senior this year and we won’t get to play together again,” he said. “But we had a good run this season. I’m glad we got to play the little we did.

“It was a good run,” he  concluded.