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Roswell tennis hoping to make state tourney

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Both the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams for the Coyotes finished in second-place in the district during regular season play.

“I was expecting us to compete for first-place in the district,” Coyote coach Kelly McDonald said. “We actually lost to the regular (season) district champs, Lovington boys, 5-4. That’s as close as it gets.”

The district tournament started on Wednesday. Roswell will enter as the No. 2 seed for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. The winner of the match between the No. 3 and 4 seeds will have played Roswell’s girls teams on Thursday and the No. 3 and 4 boys’ teams will play Roswell today.

Goddard girls were the regular season champs as they defeated Roswell 5-4 in each of their three previous matches this season. Coach McDonald doesn’t seem fazed by his teams’ losses, noting district regular season is only for seeding in the district tournament if the team doesn’t win the regular season championship. The district champions are the only team that gets an automatic berth to the state playoffs.

District 4-5A tennis tournament started with first-round play on Tuesday and Wednesday, the second round was played on Thursday and today with the district championships being played on Monday and Tuesday. Roswell hopes to advance to the championship game.

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McDonald’s boy’s team is led by four seniors, including Nathaniel Trombla, the team’s No. 1 player. The second-best player on the team is Alejandro Fortuna, who was the team’s best player last season, but through a series of challenges was beaten by Trombla in the middle of the season.

Rounding out Roswell’s top four players are seniors Nathan Monroy and Lonnie Wilhite. McDonald has been excited about the play of sophomores David Gomez and Estevan Mata, two sophomores who have played well this season.

“Both are excellent players,” McDonald said. “I call them my one and one A because they are both pretty even. Nathaniel (Tromba) is a very smart player; he’s a thinking man’s player. He doesn’t leave anything to chance. He doesn’t go out there and hit it and hope — he has a plan with every shot. He knows his opponents and strategy. Otherwise, he and Alejandro are the same.”

McDonald feels the biggest difference between his top two players is that Fortuna will try to overpower his opponents.

On the girl’s side, the Coyotes are lead by Evelyn Williams. Williams has the talent to be a top-ten player in the state, according to McDonald. Williams is the No. 1 player in the district and on the Lady Coyotes team. She won the district individuals last year and has qualified for state the last two years.

“She is the best player in the district,” McDonald said. “Ask any coaches in the district. There would be no question about it. The next best player in the district would be Lizzie Latimer of Goddard, but Evelyn (Williams) has never lost to her.”

Rounding out the top girl’s players for Roswell are seniors Ashley Dunn and Danielle Banda.

“Williams has a strong all-around game,” McDonald said. “She does everything very well — she’s not dependent on a serve game. She is a good all-around player. She could play at the next level if she wanted to.”

Even though the team will be losing key players including Williams, coach McDonald is happy with the turnout of his freshman and their play this season. McDonald feels like his freshmen will continue to improve, and his sophomore Delainy Sanchez will add a spark to the team in the future.

McDonald has taken an individual to state every year he has been the coach at RHS for the last 16 years. Last year, the boys’ team was the 10th seed out of 10 teams to make it to state. To cap off their season, they won a round by upsetting St. Pius X.

“There have been no surprises this year,” McDonald said. “I would have liked to have been the one seed going into the district tournament. I knew it was going to be close with Lovington with the boys and Goddard with the girls.”

McDonald feels like his team can get in with a second-place finish in tournament play. The thing that can hurt the Coyotes chances of making it to state is if they lose in the semifinals.

“I don’t see us losing,” McDonald said. “My boys haven’t lost to Artesia all year and we’ve seen them twice. It would be the Artesia girls too, and they haven’t beat us. We have to go up against Goddard and Lovington and I’m confident. They (Goddard and Lovington) have beaten us by the slimmest of margins this season, 5-4. I’m confident we can beat them.”

Out of all the sports, McDonald has coached, his favorite is tennis. He believes tennis teaches character as well as revealing it. While playing against an opponent, a player has to call balls in and out, and do things the right way and to be fair.

“Tennis builds the individual,” McDonald said. “There are only 90 seconds for me to coach my players during changeovers and through the fence. A lot of times, I have different matches going on at once. We try to teach etiquette here, not just winning and losing.”

RHS girls defeated Artesia, 5-2 on Thursday and they will face Goddard on Monday 3 p.m. at Goddard.

District Individual Tournament Matches start at 9 a.m. April 28 at Artesia.