Advantage Eagles


Good things came in threes for the Belen boys and girls tennis teams over the weekend.

Both Eagles squads won all three dual matches Thursday, Friday and Tuesday to enter this weekend’s Albuquerque Academy Team Tournament with confidence.

Julia Dendinger- News-Bulletin photo: SENIOR GILBERT DEVLIN, of the Belen boys tennis team, returns a shot against his opponent Thursday at the the Belen High School Tennis Center. The senior is 9-3 on the season, including three wins in the Eagles’ three home dual matches against Raton, Gallup and Grants this past weekend.

On the boys side, Belen went 26-1 in matches on the weekend, sweeping Raton 9-0 on Thursday, Gallup 9-0 on Friday and beating Grants 8-1 Tuesday.

The Eagle girls had a bit of a tougher row to hoe, but came out 3-0 on the weekend, beating Raton 5-4, Gallup 9-0 and Grants 8-1.

“We’ve been very fortunate the last three of our matches and we’re hoping to do well this weekend at Academy. I’m very proud of both teams,” said BHS boys coach Gary Elkins.

No. 1 player Gilbert Devlin moved to 9-3 on the season in singles and 5-2 on doubles with his partner, junior Harry Shawyer.

Devlin, a senior, was taken to three sets by Raton’s Toby Henson, winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 on Thursday but won in straight sets Friday against Gallup’s Issac Wenning (6-3, 6-4) and Grants’ Tyler Yaryan (6-0, 6-0).

“Gilbert’s game is consistent,” said Elkins. “He’s an experienced player and we rely on him. He’s run into some good players.”

Devlin and Shawyer had straight set wins in all three doubles matches over the weekend as well.

After Devlin, Mikey Brown has been the most consistent of the Belen boys this season, standing at 6-0 on the season.

Brown won with straight set victories in the three home duals, his toughest challenge coming Thursday, when the freshman beat Raton’s Cy Brower in a second set tiebreaker, ultimately taking the match 7-5, 7-6 (10-8).

No. 2 Derek Saavedra swept his three matches as well, beating Raton’s Darion Bird 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday, Gallup’s Dwight Maldonado 6-0, 6-2 on Friday and Grants’ Patrick Aguilar 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday. No. 3 Auguste Fischbach, a junior exchange student, also went 3-0 on the weekend.

On the girls side, No. 1 player Katee Lucero had a rough start to the weekend but rallied to win 22 of 3. Lucero fell to Raton’s Mikala Vertovec 6-4, 6-1 then beat Gallup’s Vanessa Ponce 6-1, 6-0 Friday.

The senior, who is 4-4 on the season, then out-dueled Grants’ Savannah Pena 6-4, 7-5 to win Tuesday.

Belen’s sole loss on the weekend came Tuesday as the Pirates’ Jessica Warden defeated Eagle sophomore Mariam Mojtabi in three sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Lucero and her No. 1 doubles partner Esperanza Hererra beat the Grants team of Pena and Kalee Mirabal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 Tuesday and Gallup’s Ponce and Nancy Arreguin 6-0, 6-1, to fully bounce back from a 6-3, 6-4 setback against Vertovec and Ila Medina of Raton on Thursday.

Hererra, the team’s No. 2, went 3-0 on the weekend, The senior beat Raton’s Lijah Medina 6-3, 6-2 Thursday then lost just two sets the rest of the day, beating Gallup’s Calista James 6-0, 6-1 and Grants’ Kayleigh Henneman 6-1, 6-0. Teammate Megan Jaramillo also finished 2-0 on the weekend but did not play against Raton.

“They’re doing well, getting better and better,” said BHS girls coach Regina Elkins. “These girls have come a long way. Katee and (No. 2) Esperanza Hererra have done well, so has (No. 3) Megan Jaramillo. But Mariam and Shania (Sanchez) are doing very well. So is Rose (Baca).

“They challenge each other and just continue to improve,” she said.

The Eagles now step up a level in competition to play at the Albuquerque Academy Team Tournament Friday in Albuquerque.

The boys face perennial state contenders Los Alamos, while the girls will take on host Academy, a team that boasts the state Class 4A individual champion four years running.

“The competition stays tough from here on out,” Gary Elkins said. “We go to Farmington next weekend and play Farmington (High) and Piedra Vista. They’ve been tops in the district for some time.

“But these past few matches have helped and given us confidence,” he said.