Along with tennis, the Taos Tiger boys and their coaches also played hopscotch all across the Albuquerque metro area throughout the week at this year's state tournament as they worked to capitalize on their invitation to the postseason dance.
Held at three separate venues, the end-of-season competition for classes A-4A, 5A and 6A used tennis complexes around Albuquerque, and Taos played at each of them during a three-day stretch May 2-4. Taos players tested out the courts at the Sierra Vista West Tennis Complex on the far west side of town for their opening doubles round, the Jerry Cline center near the Winrock Town Center on the east side for the doubles quarterfinal and the Albuquerque Academy for team play on the northeast side .
The boys qualified as a team by receiving a "wild-card" invite due to their strength of schedule and the toughness of their respective district.
"Many of our losses actually came at the hands of 5A schools," said Coach Kurt Edlebrock, who this year completed his 25th season as the Tigers head coach. "Overall, it was a very successful regular season for us."
Team singles qualifiers for Taos included Jens Krosby at No.1, Victor Burns Diaz at No. 2, Joe Colonius at No. 3, Keldon Larsen at No. 4, Robbie Girsten at No. 5 and Ysidro Gravelle at No. 6. The three doubles teams were comprised of Colonius and Burns Diaz at doubles No. 1, Krosby and Reed Pieper at doubles No. 2, Wooldridge and Larsen at doubles No. 3. Taos was seeded number seven in the eight-team bracket and was pitted against the number two team, Robertson May 4.
A perennial powerhouse in tennis, the Robertson Cardinals have claimed the team title in their respective class five times since 2003. In that same stretch, the Cards have racked up five runner-up finishes as well.
Ultimately, the Tigers would end up losing 7-2 to the Cardinals in their quarterfinal match. The two wins coming from Girsten in his singles match (7-6, 6-0) and team Larsen and Wooldridge in their doubles match (6-2, 6-3). Robertson would go on to place second in state behind the New Mexico Military Institute Colts, a reversal from a year ago when Robertson claimed the title and NMMI was runner-up.
Earlier in the week in doubles play, the twosome of Colonius and Burns advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Javier Gutierrez and Gerardo Calderon from the Portales Rams 6-1, 6-1 May 2. Subsequently, the pair of Tigers would fall to Morgan Wong and Gus Voelker from the Bosque School Bobcats, the eventual state runners-up 4-6, 7-5, 4-6 May 3. The other doubles team of Gravelle and Wooldridge followed a similar route with a victory in the opening round over Finn Hatau and Robert Hanslee from Bosque 6-0, 6-0, but then losing to Allen DeGroot and Francisco Saracho from NMMI 2-6, 1-6.
The Tigers did not qualify a boy or girl in singles this year or any girl doubles teams. And for the third consecutive year, Taos did not send a girls team to state.
"I'm already looking forward to next year," said Edelbrock, alluding to the core of both boy and girl returners and up-and-coming youngsters expected to join the program for his 26th year. "I'm in it for the fun."