From last year to this year, a couple of the first names of state champions had changed. All of the last names were the same.
The four individual winners crowned Thursday night at the 2019 state tennis tournament included two back-to-back champions, a repeat champ from 2017 and a newcomer under cold and windy conditions at the Jerry Cline courts.
BOYS: Georgio Samaha of Eldorado and Abraham Yohannes of Albuquerque Academy were first-place finishers for the second consecutive year.
Samaha, Class 5A’s No. 1 seed and a sophomore, staved off two set points in a first-set tiebreaker before defeating second-seeded Ethan Nguyen of Farmington, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
On a tricky and sometimes brutal night to play, Nguyen dumped a couple of overheads into the net during the tiebreak. Still, he led 6-4. But Samaha dug in to take the final four points — and one of those Nguyen didn’t play, believing it would float out.
“It gave me confidence and a little bit of a boost,” Samaha said of snagging the first set.
Nguyen took a medical timeout (cramps, he said afterward) early in the second set, but Samaha wore him down.
In a matchup of two state champions from last year, top-seeded Yohannes downed Hope Christian’s third-seeded Adomas Skauda 6-1, 6-4 in the 1A-4A final. Yohannes lost the first three games of the second set before rallying.
“He had me going,” Yohannes said. “I was just trying to find my second wind, and make him have to do something to win.”
Last year, Skauda was the 1A-4A champion and Yohannes tops in 5A.
“Both seasons were really a lot of fun, but this one I’d say is by far the sweetest,” said Yohannes.
n In doubles, Jason Lyons and Julian Lee of La Cueva, and Coleton and Hunter Hootman of Academy rolled to victories as No. 1 seeds.
Lyons and Lee took care of second-seeded Nathaniel Rowe and Elias Samaha of Eldorado, 6-2, 6-2.
“The confidence I have in him is second to none,” Lyons said. “I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”
The Hootmans closed out their spectacular career with a fifth consecutive title. They rolled Nicholas Scheller and Zach Kolkmeyer of St. Pius, 6-0, 6-1 in 1A-4A.
GIRLS: Carmen Corley of Eldorado didn’t play state singles last year so she wouldn’t have to compete against older sister Ivana, who won it all. Ivana didn’t play singles two years ago when Carmen won state.
Corley, the undefeated top seed, only dropped two games in four matches Thursday — both of them in the final as she cruised past second-seeded Ashley Seay of Carlsbad 6-1, 6-1. Virtually all of the finalists in boys singles and doubles played four matches Thursday.
“I just tried to stay focused through everything,” she said, “and not think too far ahead.”
Even though Seay was more competitive against Corley than anyone else Thursday, Corley imposed her will.
“She did a good job of trying to mix things up, but I just think I played really well,” Corley said.
Lauren Fulgenzi, a Robertson junior, was the 1A-4A champ, as she dispatched No. 2 seed Rachel Homan of Academy 6-2, 6-3. Fulgenzi’s sister Brandelyn won individual singles at state last May.
“She’s a great player, (but) I don’t think she played like that all year,” Fulgenzi said of Homan after her third victory of the season over the Charger. “I knew I had to play my best game, and I feel like I did.”
The Sandia tandem of Courtenay Leonard and Ari Lumanog, who have been playing doubles together for five years — and who are going to attend the same college, Cowley College in Kansas — capped their careers with a 5A doubles triumph, 6-2, 6-2 over Farmington’s Emily Nguyen and Anna Briones.
Santa Fe Prep’s Isabel Voinescu and Grace Vivian were the 1A-4A girls doubles champions.