ALBUQUERQUE — Saturday’s championship matches at the 2021 NMAA State Tennis Championships will have a decidedly Northern flavor.
All four of the singles and doubles finals in the Class 1A-4A level for boys and girls will have at least one Santa Fe-area connection. That includes Santa Fe Prep’s Isabel Voinescu in the girls singles title match, a pair of St. Michael’s tandems in the doubles finals for boys and girls.
“I’m just glad we get a day off between now and then,” Mariella Rigales said. “At least we can go home, rest and get some practice.”
The tournament takes Friday off, allowing teams to travel home to rest and recover before Saturday’s final round at Albuquerque Academy.
A St. Michael’s freshman, Rigales and doubles partner Hannah Garcia lost just four games in two sets in Thursday’s early rounds, also at Academy. They needed just over an hour to claim a 6-2, 6-1 win over a pair from Lovington in the quarterfinals and less than an hour to take a 6-0, 6-1 win over No. 4 seed Portales.
The tournament’s top seed, they’ll face the No. 2-seeded tandem from Belen at noon Saturday.
Voinescu wasted no time rolling into the singles finals despite being slowed by a sprained ankle while running on Prep’s track team last week. The No. 1 overall seed, she dominated a straight-sets win over Santa Teresa’s Luisa Andazola in the quarterfinals and reached the title match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Robertson’s Mikaela Sena in the semis.
“I’m proud that, mentally, I was in it and I played better as the match went on,” Voinescu said.
She’ll face Kate McDonald in the finals. The No. 3 seed from Los Alamos, McDonald had a tougher grind, needing three sets to outlast Highland’s Shaelyce Hann in the opening round and a grueling two-set win over No. 2 seed Ava Badger of Academy in the semis. The win over Badger came with a tiebreaker to determine a marathon first set.
“That was probably the best match I’ve played all year,” McDonald said. “It’s the most focused I’ve been.”
She and Voinescu are no strangers. They met in the district finals, forging a friendly rivalry that has both looking forward to a match with a state title on the line. For McDonald, it’s a chance to add her name to a long list of Los Alamos state champions.
“That part is really exciting,” she said. “Just to be here, to have a chance to play one last time for a state win, that’s what makes this so fun.”
Her classmate, Owen Dooley, is the top seed in the boys’ 1A-4A draw. The Los Alamos singles star knocked off Kameron Dunmar of St. Michael’s in the opening round, then an unseeded player in the semifinals. He’ll meet Academy’s Joseph Braun on Saturday.
The boys’ doubles final will have Wade McDermott and Evan Bloodworth of St. Michael’s. The draw’s No. 2 seed, the pair stomped through consecutive 6-0, 6-1 decisions in the quarterfinals and semifinals, setting up a Saturday showdown with Academy brothers Connor and Tanner Dils.
“I think we were very efficient today,” McDermott said.
“We just stuck to our game,” Bloodworth said. “That means just normal doubles, keeping to our basics and things like that. Nothing big.”
The 5A girls singles draw included an appearance by Santa Fe High’s Yasmin Verastegui-Palamino. Unseeded after a run through her district tournament, she was beaten 6-1, 6-0 by No. 3 Stephanie Romero of La Cueva.
The 5A boys doubles field saw Santa Fe High’s Humza Mahmood and Carlos Flores put up a fight before losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 to the No. 4 tandem from Farmington.