By Kevin Wilson
It appears the Portales girls tennis team won’t have to defend its state title without Kristen Van Wettering after all.
Van Wettering, a freshman at Eastern New Mexico University, is working as an assistant coach under Bill Wahlman.
It’s a chance to stay in the game for Van Wettering, who entertained the thought of being a two-sport athlete for ENMU but opted to concentrate solely on volleyball.
“I love tennis and I’m glad to still be involved,” Van Wettering said. “I think the girls have a great team this year.”
Van Wettering, who helped the Lady Rams win Class 1A-3A titles in 2001 and 2003, will be mostly responsible for the Portales junior varsity teams. However, she figures she may help coach the varsity when tournaments are played at split sites.
The tennis team opens its season this weekend at the Goddard Invitational. Wahlman said that he and other coaches are still in the process of rescheduling last weekend’s three-team competition with Clovis and Hereford, which was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Portales girls basketball team will wait until Friday to play for the District 4-3A championship. Its junior varsity counterpart, however, has already finished off that task.
The Lady Ram JV defeated Ruidoso 60-28 Tuesday, capping off a 6-0 district record and wining the district title. The team won seven of its final eight games and finished the year 13-6.
“We finally did a better job of trying to handle the ball, handle the pressure,” JV coach Greg Poynor said.
The team actually clinched the 4-3A title outright last week by beating Lovington in a blowout — Portales had a 26-point lead by halftime of the contest.
“We’ve really started scoring,” Poynor said. “I felt like we always played good defense, we always rebounded well. But until lately, we’d have trouble scoring.”
The Ram junior varsity had a six-game winning streak earlier this season, and they hope to end the season by winning five straight.
The Ram JV is 12-6 following a 56-18 drubbing of Artesia Tuesday night, its second win in a row. They play New Mexico Military Institute Friday, then go to Lovington Saturday to play in the District 4-3A junior varsity tournament.
Portales, which is 3-2 in district play, has won two of the last three tournaments and coach Rick Apodaca feels the Rams are in a great position to repeat.
“We’ve finally started to play pretty well as a team,” Apodaca said. “We don’t have one main guy. Every night, we’ll have a couple of kids that will get eight, nine points or eight rebounds.”
Although he admits the team has been inconsistent, sophomore guard Chris Adkins is confident the Rams will defend their title.
“We should win it,” Adkins said. “We’re the best team.”
Seeds are yet to be determined, but games will be played at 9:30 a.m. (No. 1 seed vs. No. 4), 11 a.m. (No. 2 vs. No. 3), 1 p.m. (third-place) and 2:30 p.m. (championship).