Albuquerque’s top prep tennis stars converged upon the Albuquerque Academy campus the weekend of April 26-27 for the APS Metro Tennis Championships. The tournament is essentially the final warm-up act before district and state tournaments settle the ultimate score in early May. Academy’s own freshman phenom, Melissa Pick, ran into top-seeded and defending state champion, junior Chloe Lee of Albuquerque High, in the ladies’ final.
Lee was sporting her trademark Bulldog-green tank top with white tennis skirt and hat, as she served flawlessly en route to a 6-1 first set victory. In the second, Lee was trailing 0-40 on serve in a 4-4 tie. After an ace and serve-&-volley forced a deuce, the ladies exchanged 20+ consecutive ground strokes before Pick wore down and Lee took a seemingly commanding 5-4 lead. In actuality, Pick was just getting started. Long games became the norm and Lee started to show signs of fatigue. After Pick broke Lee to retake the lead at 5-6 in the second, Chloe threw down her towel in frustration as she tried to gather herself between games. Pick fought through another deuce before sealing the deal on the second set, 5-7. Throughout the entirety of the third, Pick found her service game and controlled the pace of the match with her ground strokes, making Lee cover corner to corner along the baseline. Impressively, Pick posted a doughnut in the third set and took home the title as Albuquerque’s Best Female Tennis Player of 2013; 1-6, 7-5, 6-0.
On the men’s side of the tourney, defending state champ Sean Baklini of Eldorado took on district rival Michael Tran of La Cueva in the finals. Baklini came out content playing baseline pepper with his powerful ground strokes, keeping Tran pinned deep on the defense. Baklini got whatever he wanted in the first set, cruising to a 6-1 win. Tran found his legs in the second, rarely falling behind Baklini’s pace and finally able to control his serve. After holding serve to go up 5-4, Tran needed a break to force a third set. The ensuing game was the best competition of the day – it featured a handful of deuces before Baklini finally held serve by forcing an error. Two consecutive breaks later and the second set was headed to a tiebreaker. Baklini had been using his ground stroke attack to set up surprise runs to the net throughout the second, and he doubled down on that strategy to win the tiebreak 7-2, becoming city champion again; 6-1, 7-6. “Towards the end of the second set I had to get back into the mentality of being aggressive,” said Baklini of his beautiful net play to close out the match. Sandia’s Christian Fitzgerald and Colton Padilla captured the men’s doubles crown while Ksenia Bosina and Stacy Pollack ensured an Academy team title with the ladies’ doubles crown. The state tennis tournament kicks off spring championship season next month!