ROSWELL — The Portales Lady Rams continued their drive towards their second state title in three seasons, and the Rams came four games away from pulling off what would have been the biggest upset in Class 1A-3A tennis.
Host New Mexico Military Institute defeated the Rams 4-1 in boys action for the District 4-3A championship, but needed to win a pair of split sets — with tiebreakers, to boot — to prevent a Portales upset.
Senior Rustin Self went to a third set with NMMI’s Will Burke and lost 7-6, with a 7-5 tiebreaker. Nathan Acker and Travis Holt lost in a split-set match to Jorge Baeza and Fredrico Neraldez in No. 2 doubles. Baeza and Neraldez won 7-6 (7-4), 0-6, 7-6 (7-5).
Portales’ only victory was in No. 1 doubles, with Bryan Yeast and Chris Kirchner pulling off a 7-5, 6-1 win in over Josh Johnson and Jose Garcia.
In the other boys match, Portales defeated Lovington 5-0.
The Lady Rams faced Lovington for the district championship and took a 4-1 victory. Portales won both doubles flights, including a split-set victory in No. 1 doubles from Rachelle Self and Kaycee Quick.
In individual play, Kristen Van Wettering and Sara Bulls won girls, defeating teammates Hailey Quick and Rachelle Self 6-3, 6-3. Both doubles teams earned berths to the state tournament.
Other individual qualifiers include Yeast in boys singles, Jones and Self in boys doubles and Morgan Erf in girls singles.
The state tournament begins Wednesday with individual play through Thursday at Albuquerque Academy (Wednesday only) and the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.
The Portales girls will play Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex. The Lady Rams will play on Saturday at 8 a.m. at either the Albuquerque Tennis Complex (third-place match) or the Lobo Tennis Courts at the University of New Mexico (championship match).
BERNALILLO — The 2003 Portales High softball season ended the same way the 2002 season did — with a regional loss at Bernalillo.
Portales (8-14) had its chances in a 6-2 loss to the Lady Spartans, but coach Robbie Crowley said the key was leaving 13 runners on base.
“I was pleased with the defense,” Crowley said, “(and) I was pleased with the offense other than (the fact that) we couldn’t get a run across.”
The Lady Spartans got six hits off of junior Kassandra Richards.
The Lady Rams, meanwhile, got eight hits in the game, but couldn’t come through with runners on base. Portales scored its runs on an RBI single by senior Jalissa King and a Bernalillo throwing error.
Crowley feels good about the Lady Rams’ chances in 2004, as Richards and the core of the team will return.
“We’re losing a couple of infielders, a couple of outfielders,” Crowley said, “but I think we’ve got the kids to fill those spots.”