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State Tennis: Kuuttila Endures And Prevails

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Humphreys Nips Baklini, Wins 2nd Title

 

Chris Humphreys was six points away from his second straight state championship tennis singles championship when Thursday’s heat finally took its toll and the cramping began.

Fortunately for the Valley High School sophomore, his opponent, Eldorado’s Sean Baklini, was the player in need of a trainer.

Baklini finished the match, but Humphreys finished him off 7-6, 6-3 to win the Class 5A boys title at the Jerry Cline Tennis Complex.

Humphreys, who won the 1A-3A singles title last season at Sandia Prep, was one of five top seeds to win among the six singles championship matches .

Albuquerque Academy’s Ksenia Bosina was the exception. The No. 2-seeded sophomore beat top-seeded Tori Merrion, a junior from Farmington 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in a 2-hour, 37-minute 4A girls marathon.

Bosina’s schoolmate, senior Thomas Cooper, won his second straight 4A title, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, over junior teammate David Zumwalt. The match gave Copper his fifth state championship overall. He has been part of three doubles team championships.

Humphreys led 7-6, 4-3 and 30-0 on his serve when Baklini called for the trainer after lunging for a ball on the previous point. Humphreys retreated near his teammates and coaches just on the other side of the chain link fence but didn’t say much during his 5-minute wait.

“I tried to make sure I didn’t get out of focus,” Humphreys said. “I was thinking, ‘if he’s cramping right now, I want to make him move around as much as possible.’”

Baklini, also a sophomore, didn’t use the injury as an excuse, noting that he was felt fine when Humphreys won the first set in a 7-5 tiebreaker.

“Chris just played better; he deserved it,” Baklini said.

Both said, however, that the result may have been different had Baklini been able to save a fifth set point during the first-set tiebreaker.

Humphreys led 6-1, but Baklini scored the next four points before Humphreys won it on his own serve.

La Cueva senior Anna Kuuttila didn’t let fatigue bother her in her 5A girls title match against Albuquerque High freshman Chloe Lee.

Kuuttila had about an hour’s rest for the match after she defeated Eldorado’s Susan Baklini 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 in the semifinal. Kuuttila jumped out to 4-1 leads in both sets against Lee and held on to win 7-5, 6-4.

“That match against Susie tired me out,” Kuuttila said. “Me getting ahead (against Lee) was key; had she gotten ahead, she might’ve won.”

Lee, who lobs frequently to change the pace of play during points, was the one who ended up frustrated.

“(Kuuttila) turned it on every time she needed to,” Lee said.

Bosina came to the conclusion she needed to turn it on in the third set against Merrion after both players were content to engage in low-risk rallies for the first two sets.

“In the third set, I relaxed and played more aggressively, I think,” she said.

If Bosina and Merrion played the longest match, Cooper and Zumwalt engaged in the most spirited match — both players talking angrily to themselves during play.

“David and me know each other’s game so much, I just really had to dig down and grind it out,” Cooper said. “A lot of kids can’t return my serve very well, but he’s been able to see it all year and return it all year. I usually get a lot of free points, but today I had to really grind.”

Bosque School’s Rand Briggs defeated Robertson’s Emilio Gomez 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 to win boys 1A-3A, and Robertson’s Miranda Garcia beat St. Michael’s Paloma Gomez 6-0, 6-2 for the 1A-3A girls title. Doubles champions included La Cueva’s Ethan Hall and Matt Nazi (5A boys) and Carlsbad’s Sophia Rodriguez and Diamond Morrill (5A girls); Los Alamos’ Dominic Lucido and Chase Havemann (4A boys) and Farmington’s Hannah Merrion and Mackenzie Pavlik (4A girls); and St. Michael’s Casey Ish and Will Matthews (1A-3A boys) and Sandia Prep’s Margaret Stebbins and Abby Younger (1A-3A) girls.

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