Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Opponents of the Robertson tennis teams can take a certain amount of solace in the fact that the teams are nearly devoid of Fulgenzis.
For the five-time defending champion girls, the Cardinals have long had multiple members of northern New Mexico’s first family of tennis.
But with last year’s graduation of Brandi and Jenese Fulgenzi, both of whom are now playing college tennis, that leaves Lauren as the last Fulgenzi standing with the girls squad.
But Cardinals fans fearing the cupboard might be a bit bare should have no worries.
Coach Warren Fulgenzi, Lauren’s dad, is quite confident other sets of siblings will help carry Robertson forward.
Senior Cailyn Marrujo will be going for her fifth state championship and her sister, freshman Carli Marrujo, her second.
And senior Marissa Sena is after her fourth championship and her sister Miquela Sena her second.
“We’ve got a group of girls that have been with us for a while,” coach Fulgenzi said. “We hope they’re experienced and that they’ll be able to draw on their experience in going for another one.”
The team is already looking pretty strong, recently beating leading contender Albuquerque Academy 5-4.
“It was a nail biter,” he said. “It was a dogfight. I’m sure there are a couple of other teams out there that are pretty good and will be shooting for us.”
The boys team, which hasn’t been blessed with a plethora of Fulgenzis – no more than one on the roster at a time over the past four years – still has had an enviable success rate, reaching the finals all four seasons and twice bringing home the blue trophy.
“We’re going to try to make it back to the state championship finals,” coach Fulgenzi said.
Getting the trophy, however, is quite the tall task, as the Academy Chargers have won 20 of the past 21 boys team championships, including 15 straight.
And they whipped the Robertson boys recently.
“We have to deal with Academy and they have been a powerhouse in our state. They were in Class 5A, but they were better than all the 6A teams. When we played them, they beat us 9-0. It was great for the kids to get that kind of experience. We don’t get to see that level that often.”
The boys team has an interesting addition this season in 1A-3A soccer co-player of the year T.J. Trujillo, who led Robertson to the championship game on the pitch in the fall.
Although Trujillo hasn’t played tennis before, he’s earned the No. 6 slot in the lineup.
“We recruited him this year, he’s a great athlete,” Fulgenzi said. “He’s already a two-hander both ways, he’s picking it up pretty quick. I wish we could have had him a lot younger. We could have molded him into a great tennis player.”
Trujillo embodies exactly what has made the Cardinals program so strong for both genders.
“One, we have to have commitment, and we have to – and do – put in the hard work,” the coach said. “We try to practice; well, we do practice seven days a week, but Sunday practices are optional. We’re there. Tennis is all rhythm and timing. You take a day off, you lose some rhythm, some timing. In order to play your best tennis, you have to be sharp. We like to keep them going just so they can stay sharp.”
He also gets the players to buy into using a two-handed swing on both the forehand and the backhand.
“It’s a Robertson trademark,” Fulgenzi said. “I believe that a one-hander and a two-hander will both reach the finish line, but the two-hander will get there first. That’s what our father taught me and all my brothers, and that’s what I taught all my kids. It makes sense that two hands are stronger than one.”