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Prep tennis: Eldorado’s Samaha, La Cueva’s King capture big-school titles

Eldorado’s Georgio Samaha serves against La Cueva’s Tannin Ramnath on Saturday afternoon at Albuquerque Academy. Samaha went on to defeat Ramnath to claim the Class 5A boys championship. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Georgio Samaha ended his career the way he started it – on top. But plenty of youth was served, too.

Eldorado’s Samaha won his third state tennis singles title, while a pair of freshmen – Cameron King of La Cueva and Joseph Braun of Albuquerque Academy – also had individual championships Saturday as the state singles and doubles competition concluded at the Academy.

“To close my career, I love it,” said Samaha, a senior who also won state as a freshman and sophomore before his junior season was canceled by the pandemic. “Not very many people can say they have three state titles. It’s definitely a privilege for me. I feel very grateful.”

The top-seeded Samaha joined some elite company on Saturday. Since the state began using multiple classes at state in 1964, only two other boys had achieved at least three singles titles in the largest classification. Those are David Kowalski of Carlsbad (1999-2001) and Cody Hall of La Cueva, who won four straight from 2005-08.

For Eldorado, it has had the large-school boys state singles champ in five straight completed seasons, not including 2020.

In finishing off an undefeated season, Samaha had a couple of early breaks of serve against La Cueva’s third-seeded Tanin Ramnath in Saturday’s Class 5A singles final. He cruised through the opening set 6-0. Ramnath, a sophomore, began taking some more chances and got to Samaha here and there, but eventually, Samaha closed it out 6-3 in straight sets.

“He was definitely going for more,” said Samaha, who will compete collegiately at the University of New Mexico. “And it was working at the beginning of the second set, but I adjusted to it.”

Cameron King returns a serve against fellow La Cueva High School freshman Stephanie Romero during the Class 5A singles final on Saturday afternoon at Albuquerque Academy. King would go on to win the 5A crown. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

King, the No. 1 seed in the 5A girls tournament, downed teammate, third-seeded Stephanie Romero – also is a ninth-grader – 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

“I’m very excited, it’s been my goal since, like, elementary school,” King said.

Elementary school?

“Yeah, just because I’ve always seen the older kids doing it and I’m, like, I want to do that when I grow up.”

• La Cueva’s top-seeded team of Alex Lumanog and Ryan Holloway dominated in the 5A doubles, routing Carlsbad’s second-seeded duo of Andrew Miller and Clayton Bluth, 6-1, 6-1. The Bears have won state doubles seven consecutive seasons.

Farmington’s Anna Briones and Shantel Simmons, seeded No. 1, were even more dominant in the final than Lumanog and Holloway. They double-bageled Centennial’s Grace Chang and Alexie Stiles, the No. 3 seed, 6-0, 6-0.

CLASS 1A-4A: The second-seeded Braun won a tight opening set in a tiebreak, dropped the second set, then rolled in the final set for a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-0 victory over No. 1 seed Owen Dooley of Los Alamos.

Joseph Braun stretches for a return against Los Alamos’ Owen Dooley Saturday afternoon in the boys 1A-4A final match. Braun went on to win the match. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Although Braun broke Dooley in the first and third games of the deciding set, it was actually the second game that swung the match. In a marathon game, Braun fought Dooley off repeatedly as Dooley tried to match the break of serve in the opening game.

“It was such a long game,” Braun said. “We kept going at it, and I just decided, I’m gonna go for my serve, and I got some free points.”

That hold seemed pivotal into the third game, when Dooley double-faulted several times to hand Braun a commanding 3-0 lead.

“He was up 30-0 and then he hit three straight double faults. It was really a gift,” Braun said.

No. 1 seed Isabel Voinescu of Santa Fe Prep beat No. 3 Kate McDonald of Los Alamos, 6-1, 7-6 (5) in the girls 1A-4A final.

• The top-seeded Dils brothers from Academy, Connor and Tanner, outlasted No. 2 Wade McDermott and Evan Bloodworth of St. Michael’s, 6-4, 7-5 in the boys doubles championship match.

“It was tough,” said Tanner, a sophomore. “We were really trying to move our feet and keep our energy.”

“At the end of the first set,” said Connor, a freshman, “it was, ‘Who wanted it more from there?'”

The Dils’ only loss this season came in the regular season to the 5A champs, Holloway and Lumanog of La Cueva.

From St. Mike’s, No. 1-seeded Mariela Rigales and Hannah Garcia won the girls doubles final, 6-2, 7-5 over No. 2 Riley Cordova and Isabella Jaramillo of Belen.

The team event is next week.




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