Lady Cards topple Carlsbad

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Cavegirls five-time tennis champs in 5A

By Dave Kavanaugh

With first-place finishes in six of nine spots on the lineup, the Robertson girls’ tennis team won the championship of this past weekend’s Carlsbad Invitational.

In doing so, the Lady Cardinals surprised one of the elite programs in the state — Class 5A’s five-time defending state champion Carlsbad, the tournament host.

It’s believed to be the first title in that particular tournament won by a Robertson girls’ team.

Meanwhile, the RHS boys — a relatively young, inexperienced crew — forged a third-place finish in the eight-team event.

“We had a good weekend,” said Juan Carlos Fulgenzi, who coaches both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Robertson.

“The girls are playing really well right now. We just have to keep peaking ... We won six out of nine events on the girls’ side, which is impressive, and we swept the doubles, which was huge, actually.”

The Lady Cards got individual titles from team leaders Juliana Guerin and Miranda Garcia at No. 1 and No. 2 singles and as a pair in No. 1 doubles. Guerin and Garcia have been every bit the threat they were throughout last season.

But the difference-makers — at least as far as the Carlsbad Invite is concerned — came down the line. Giavanna LaFerriere, a Lady Cards veteran, won the No. 6 singles flight. Victoria Gomez and Victoria Urrutia teamed up to win the bracket in No. 2 doubles, and LaFerriere and Elise Almendarez endured a brutal first-round test against El Paso Americas and went on to victory in the No. 3 doubles division.

“We knew we were going to get a tough draw,” Fulgenzi said. “Our half of the draw is always loaded. That’s just bracketology. But that’s just what makes us tougher.”

Gomez and Urrutia both took second in No. 3 and No. 4 singles, respectively. And Almendarez was fifth at No. 5.

The Cardinal boys’ team punched its way to third place, led by individual championship efforts at the top of the lineup — No. 1 and No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles.

Specifically, Emilio Gomez and David Romero continued their promising early-season run.

“We did fairly well on the boys’ side,” Fulgenzi said. “We fought hard.”

Henry Robertson and Nick Newman each placed third at No. 3 and No. 4 singles, respectively, and the two partnered up to take third at No. 2 doubles.

Charlie Linder also finished in the top half of the draw, placing fourth at No. 5 singles.

Robertson’s No. 6 singles player, Jay Patel “lost twice but played tough,” in Fulgenzi’s estimation. And the Redbirds’ No. 3 doubles team “lost both matches but gained match time,” the coach said.

Robertson has become a regular in the Carlsbad tournament, which has often been used to toughen the Cardinals and Lady Cardinals with exposure to big-school New Mexico talent as well as some solid west Texas opposition.

Fulgenzi noted that the Cavemen host three events in a row, but this event is generally the one with the most difficult competition.

RHS hosts Clovis and Portales beginning at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The boys’ team includes Gomez, Romero, Robertson, Newman, Linder, Patel, Jacob Ratzlaff, Manny Valdez Jr. and Lorenzo Chavez.

The girls’ team includes Guerin, Garcia, Gomez, Urrutia, Almendarez, LaFerriere and Victoria Giron.