ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Academy’s Pick, Cooper also win
Thursday night’s victory by Michael Tran in the boys Class 5A state singles championship match had longtime Bears tennis coach Dick Johnson waxing nostalgic.
“It’s been a long time” since La Cueva had a state singles champ, Johnson said.
Actually, it’s been only four years.
That qualifies as a drought for La Cueva’s dominant program.
Tran, a junior, had a spectacular day at the Jerry Cline Complex, knocking off his two closest rivals en route to the 5A crown.
After rallying from a set down in the semifinals to beat Eldorado’s Sean Baklini, No. 2 seed Tran dominated top-seeded Shepard Moore of Sandia in the finals, 6-2, 6-1.
“I really wanted to win it,” said Tran. “Especially to beat Shepard and Sean in the same tournament.”
Shepard, who had dropped only three combined games in his previous two matches, labored with his serve — and with most every facet of his game.
“I really struggled the whole match,” said Moore. “But Mike was playing well. He was playing good.”
Moore took an injury timeout between sets; the senior later confessed that he was not in pain.
“I just wanted more time between sets to work things out,” he said with a sheepish smile.
Tran’s victory was one of five singles titles won by Albuquerque players Thursday.
Albuquerque High junior Chloe Lee, the top seed, made it two straight in girls 5A singles with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Eldorado’s second-seeded Susan Baklini. These two played nearly three hours in the finals last May.
“It came down to one or two points in both sets,” said Lee. “To win those crucial points was the difference.”
Lee said she was determined not to let Baklini rally, since “she’s so good at coming back. So I knew I had to give myself that spread.”
♦ In Class 4A, Albuquerque Academy swept the singles with sophomore George Cooper and freshman Melissa Pick — both of whom also won state a year ago.
Cooper, the youngest of three brothers who have combined to win a whopping seven state singles titles for the Chargers, whipped Academy teammate Alex Dunning 6-4, 6-0 in the finals. Cooper and Dunning were the top two seeds.
The Cooper boys have won the last five titles — George in 2012 and 2013, Thomas in 2010 and 2011, and Andy in 2009.
Cooper said familiarity with Dunning led to some strategic tweaking.
“I changed a lot of things I wouldn’t do against normal players,” Cooper said. “Because Alex has things that are too good to be able to deal with (normally).”
Pick, the No. 1 seed for the second straight year, beat Grants’ Paris Corley in the finals. This time it was 6-3, 6-3. Corley was seeded No. 2.
“She was more aggressive this year,” Pick said, “and every time you play Paris, you’re gonna get a really hard match.”
The fifth Albuquerque singles champion is Sandia Prep senior Michael Atkin. The third-seeded Atkin, twice a state runner-up with the Sundevils, upset No. 1 Jose Gonzales of New Mexico Military Institute 6-4, 6-3.
“I had one goal since I was in the eighth grade,” Atkin said. “I’ve got the title to my name, and I’m so happy right now.”
Bosque School’s Clare Donahue and Louisa Mackenzie captured the girls Class 1A-3A doubles title for the second year in a row.
For a recap of singles and doubles finals results, see page D2.