Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — No major surprises for took place for Portales teams on Wednesday’s opening day of the Class 1A-3A individual state tennis championships.
That meant that all Rams and Lady Rams singles entries were eliminated by day’s end, although eighth-grader Bethany Self did score a win by default before bowing in the quarterfinals.
Self got a default when Bosque School’s Molly McDevitt mistakenly believed that the opening round of the tournament was on Thursday and failed to show up for the 8 a.m. match.
However, Self did get to play against Ruidoso stalwart Heather McDougal in the quarterfinals and fell 6-1, 6-4 in that match.
“It was fun, but it was tough, especially against McDougal,” said Self, who said she would have liked to have played earlier in the day “just to get more practice in. (McDougal) is their No. 1 (player); I’m our No. 6.”
Most of the top Portales girls were entered in doubles competition, and they were relatively successful.
Last year’s state runner-up team of Hailey Quick and Rachelle Self — Bethany’s older sister — played its way into the championship match by winning two contests.
Quick, a senior, and Self, a junior, defeated the Ruidoso duo of Jeanette Zagone and Liz Pruitt 6-0, 6-1. Then, the Portales team knocked off Katherine Short and Ellen Madden of Sandia Prep 6-2, 6-2 to gain the finals.
After winning, the victorious Lady Rams team watched as Portales’ other doubles entry — freshman Morgan Erf and sophomore Jessica Bulls — fell to the St. Michael’s team of Garcia and Sommer 6-1, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
Had Erf and Bulls won, the doubles final would have been an all-Portales affair — as it was when Quick and Self lost to Portales’ team of Kristen Van Wettering and Sarah Bulls in 2003.
“It’s easier playing other teams,” Self said. “But then again, it’s neat when it’s one of your own teams on the other side of the net.”
In boys doubles, Portales’ Bryan Yeast and Chris Kirchner easily beat Ruidoso’s Kevin Yeager and Adrian Olvera 6-0, 6-1 in their first match of the day before losing to Robertson’s Roman Fulgenzi and Emilio Garcia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals.
Portales also had two players in the boys singles field, but Nathan Acker lost 6-2, 6-2 to St. Michael’s Sergei Barrow in the first round while Chance Plummer — after beating Santa Fe Prep’s Sam Mott 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 — lost to another Fulgenzi in the quarterfinals.
Plummer’s Fulgenzi opponent happened to be defending state champ Mario Fulgenzi.
“He’s gotten better — he’s really good. I knew he’d be tough because he won state last year,” Plummer said. “He would just come to the net, and I couldn’t get it past him. I didn’t play as good as I could have, but I did pretty well for who I played.”