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Hannah Garcia didn’t pick up a racket until four years ago when, as an eighth grader, she joined the St. Michael’s girls tennis team.

On Saturday, amid the unrelenting heat of Albuquerque Academy’s sprawling tennis complex, she etched her name in school history by winning a doubles state championship with teammate Mariella Rigales in the Class 1A-4A draw of the state tennis championships.

The pair became the first girls tandem in 16 years to go all the way and, as fate would have it, the man who handed them their championship medals during a post-match ceremony was none other than former St. Michael’s athletic director and tennis coach Joe Butler. He’s the father of one of the girls who won state in 2006, putting a perfect bow on what was a magical season for Garcia and Rigales.

“I’ve mixed around my doubles partners a little bit, but Mariella and I complement one another really well,” Garcia said. “She’s the perfect partner for me and, yeah, I can’t wait to see what we do next year when we come back out here and see if we can do it again. We know our game and we have so much confidence in each other.”

The pair beat Belen’s Riley Cordova and Isabella Jaramillo in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5, getting tested in the second set. It was 5-5 before a late flourish by Garcia, a junior, and Rigales, a freshman, finished it off.

“We’ve grown into the mindset of trusting each other and that comes from us being close friends off the court,” Rigales said. “We played together last year, too, but we’ve come so far together. Towards the end we got a little nervous, but that’s when we just give each other a look, stick to the fundamentals and trust each other’s shots.”

They weren’t the only players to be crowned state champs in Saturday’s mid-90s heat. Santa Fe Prep’s Isabel Voinescu won the 1A-4A singles title, outlasting Kate McDonald from Los Alamos, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5). Voinescu said her worst enemy proved to be her own frustrations in the second set as unforced errors on serves and return shots didn’t always go her way.

“I kind of lost concentration and it’s hard when you start off good and then have a little dip,” she said.

To be fair, she was nursing not one, but two bad ankles. She strained her right ankle last week with Prep’s track and field team, then went to bed Friday night with the left one bothering her.

“I guess I’m getting old,” she joked. “I need a wheelchair.”

The final-set tiebreak was back and forth until Voinescu rallied for three of the final four points to get the win. In so doing she became the first Prep girls player to win a singles state championship — and the first from the city of Santa Fe in 46 years. Not since Adrienne Mecham of Santa Fe High won the Class 4A state title in 1974 and 1975 had anyone from the city finished on top.

“You know, when it started getting close I had to remind myself not to focus on the score and just concentrate on each point because, honestly, the score was kind of freaking me out,” Voinescu said.

Then again, winning a state title isn’t exactly new to her. She was part of the double state championship two years ago, a title she was unable to defend when last year’s state tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.

What she does next is anyone’s guess. She’s part of Prep’s lineup that qualified for next week’s team state tournament. The No. 4 seed, Prep will host No. 5 St. Michael’s next week, meaning the state champs from both of this week’s tournaments will be on the court together.

Voinescu has a big decision to make. A state qualifier in multiple events in next weekend’s Class 3A state track meet, she could potentially have a conflict if Prep’s girls tennis team beats St. Michael’s in the quarterfinals. The semifinals and championship rounds for team tennis will be played the same day as the track meet.

“For the last two years, minus COVID, I’ve had to do districts in both on the same day,” she said. “My secret, you focus for a day and then you eat ice cream for the whole entire night.”

The St. Michael’s boys doubles team of Evan Bloodworth and Wade McDermott wasn’t so fortunate. The tournament’s No. 2 seed, they rolled through the first two rounds by losing just two sets. They held their own against Academy’s top-seeded Dils brothers, Tanner and Conner, in a 6-4, 7-5 loss.

The match ended when the Horsemen duo double-faulted on match point, extending a streak of seven straight state tournaments with a doubles champion from Academy. Bloodworth and McDermott were bidding to win the Horsemen’s first state title in 10 years — and just the fifth in school history.

Top-seeded 1A-4A singles player Owen Dooley of Los Alamos was beaten in three sets by No. 3 seed Joseph Braun in the finals, dropping a marathon 7-6, 3-6, 6-0 decision that was the last match going on Saturday afternoon.

It was a heartbreaker for Dooley. He led the first set 5-2 when Braun did what he had all year long: turn it on when his back was to the wall. He rallied to a three-set win in the semifinals on Thursday after dropping the first set, doing so by extending rallies with an aggressive baseline game that kept his opponent on the run.

He broke Dooley’s serve early in the third set, gaining momentum with every point to had the Los Alamos sophomore his only loss of the season. Before Saturday, Dooley had only dropped one set through 12 singles matches.

NOTESDates for this week’s team state tournament will be announced Sunday. All duals matches in the quarterfinals must be completed by Thursday. … Quarterfinals will be held at the host site of the higher seed. Only eight teams per classification made it to each bracket in 1A-4A and 5A. The semifinals and championship matches for the small schools will be hosted by Albuquerque Academy on June 19; the 5A duals matches will be at the Jerry Cline Tennis Center in Albuquerque.