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La Cueva boys, Sandia girls grab tennis titles

La Cueva’s Julian Lee won in singles to help lead the Bears to a 5-0 win over Eldorado and the Class 5A state championship on Monday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

La Cueva’s boys, for the fifth time in six years, and Sandia’s girls, for the first time in 14 years, captured Class 5A state team tennis championships on Monday.

The Bears blitzed longshot Eldorado 5-0, while the Matadors edged Albuquerque High 5-3 at the Jerry Cline courts.

BOYS: The Bears finished an 11-1 season and avenged a loss to the Eagles in last year’s state final.

Julian Lee, Alex Lumanog, Jason Lyons, Ryan Holloway and Dan Lastine won their singles matches for La Cueva, and once the fifth win was secure, the team championship was over.

“Everything really came to a head in the last four weeks. We really peaked at a good time,” longtime Bears coach Dick Johnson said.

Lee had a particularly gratifying tournament.

He and Lyons combined to win the individual doubles state title last Thursday. And in the team portion of the event, Lee, who played No. 1 singles, beat both of the individual state finalists, Ethan Nguyen of Farmington on Saturday, and then Georgio Samaha (the 5A champ) on Monday. The scores were 6-3, 6-3.

“I played well,” said Lee, who was getting dressed up for La Cueva’s honors assembly on Monday night. “I played a good, consistent game, played smart.”

It was Lee and Lyons, La Cueva’s senior captains, who spearheaded this team, Johnson said, adding that the duo combined to win over 200 matches in their high school careers.

“It was storybook with Julian winning today,” Johnson said. “It was the great culmination of a wonderful season.”

GIRLS: The top-seeded Matadors and sixth-seeded Bulldogs split their six singles matches, putting the first-place trophy in the hands of the doubles teams.

The No. 1 doubles tandem of Ari Lumanog – Alex’s brother – and Ella Cummings won big in their match for Sandia, which was a pro-set format (first to eight games, with a cushion of two) because of the rain delays involved in the tournament.

It was the No. 3 doubles duo of senior Paige Ellison and junior Jolene Silva who provided the championship-clinching point as Sandia capped a 13-0 season.

“The two seniors, and Ella, were dominating,” Matadors coach Scott Leonard said. He also won a state title as a player for Del Norte in the late 1970s. “It’s incredible; this season couldn’t have been any better.”

In singles, Sandia had victories from No. 1 Courtenay Leonard, No. 3 Cummings and No. 6 Brenyn Dils.

AHS had an upset win in No. 2 singles, with Cienna Chavez beating Lumanog – Lumanog’s first loss of the season – and also No. 4 Maria Behrend and No. 5 Audry Johnson.

“That’s so cool,” Lumanog said as she reflected on she and her brother both being part of championship teams Monday. “We were saying before the season that we needed to win state, so we can take a picture for Instagram.”