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Thomas Gonzalez looks for open court in which to place his return shot during boys’ doubles play against Goddard Tuesday at The Mack. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

After his Bulldogs fell to Goddard at the Lea County Open in Lovington in March, Artesia High School head tennis coach Tim Trentham wasn’t quite sure what to expect Tuesday in the program’s District 4-AAAAA-opening dual against the Rockets at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex.

But the ‘Dogs stepped up to open the “second season” on an impressive note on their windy home courts, defeating the boys in blue 5-4.

“That was a surprising victory, and we were pretty happy about it,” Trentham said today. “When we played them last time in Lovington, we struggled. Then yesterday, we started with doubles play on the boys’ side, and while it looked like we were going to get two matches, we ended up only getting one.

“Your back’s kind of against the wall in that situation, because you have to win four out of six singles matches from there. But that’s exactly what we did.”

The Artesia boys got singles victories from Jesus Valdez, Zain Burns, Thomas Gonzalez and Eduardo Samaniego Tuesday afternoon that, paired with a doubles win by the team of Valdez and Burns, put them at 1-0 in regular-season district play.

“And we could’ve won more, to be honest,” said Trentham. “We had two of our players out from our normal ladder, so Jake Salgado had to step up from the 10 position to play No. 6 singles, and he almost won playing in his first district varsity match ever.

“Juan Montanez also almost got his singles match, which was split sets, and then he also split sets with Thomas in doubles, so we almost came out of that thing 8-1.”

Za’Leigh Pittam keeps her eye on the ball as she returns a serve during girls’ singles play against the Lady Rockets. (Brienne Green – Daily Press

The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, came up short against the Lady Rockets in their district opener but were not far from victory themselves in a 3-6 decision.

Jennifer Rios and Daisy Barrera posted Ws for the Artesia girls in singles play at The Mack, and the doubles duo of Dominique Sanchez and Michelle Greene also came out on top.

“We had some matches that were closer than what the scores indicated,” Trentham said. “We had one singles match that was split sets and another that was really close to swinging the other way for us, so if we could’ve come out of singles with those two extra wins, we could’ve taken the dual.

“The good thing is, that’s our hardest opponent in district, from what we’ve seen, so there’s something to be taken from that.”

The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs will now prepare for their second home district dual, set for 3 p.m. Monday, April 9, at The Mack.

The Artesia girls topped the Lady Wildcats each time they saw them during the tournament season and will be looking to continue that trend to even out their district mark. The ‘Dogs, meanwhile, will need to prepare for a challenge from the Wildcats.

“Lovington beat us when we played them at their tournament,” Trentham said. “We know they’re going to be strong, so we just have to keep pushing. But hopefully, this win against Goddard kind of gives us some momentum.

“It’s exciting now to be getting into district play. It’s good to be done with all the tournament and duals, and be playing matches where something is on the line. If we can take care of business, we should be in good shape when it comes to district seeds.”