By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — A little excuse-me swing at the net, an ensuing on-court celebration — and another Portales doubles team into the record book as a state champion.
After Lady Rams junior Rachelle Self hesitantly stabbed at a shot on match point and watched it fall in for a winner, she and senior teammate Hailey Quick won the Class 1A-3A doubles championship 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 over the St. Michael’s duo of Annie Garcia and Erika Sommer.
The triumph meant that Portales girls teams have won the doubles title in three of the last four years. But this wasn’t just another win for Quick and Self — who lost to teammates Kristen Van Wettering and Sara Bulls in the 2003 championship match.
“I was just excited — I jumped up and screamed,” Quick said. “This is awesome. This is what I’ve worked my whole high school career for — this and the team championship.”
After forcing a deciding set by winning the second-set tiebreaker, Quick and Self quickly forged a 3-0 lead.
But just as quickly, it vanished as Garcia and Sommer rallied to take the next four games.
“I told them that we just needed to get our lead back, to settle down and keep the ball in play,” Portales coach Bill Wahlman said of the crucial juncture when his team’s confidence was in the most serious trouble. “Both teams were very consistent that last set. We just got the games when we needed them.”
Quick said she gave herself some words of advice when down 4-3 in the third.
“I was really trying to focus on the game, because when I don’t do that I do terrible,” Quick said. “I just had to not worry about the score.”
Self thought the experience of being in the championship match the year before, although it was a losing one, was beneficial this time around.
“We were more experienced; we kind of knew what to expect,” she said.
The championships for the individual portion of the state tennis tournament were played Thursday at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.
Portales’ other girls team, Morgan Erf and Jessica Bulls, fell in the third-place match 6-2, 6-1 to the Sandia Prep team of Katherine Short and Ellen Madden.
In boys consolation play, the Portales duo of Bryan Yeast and Chris Kirchner posted a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Isaac Atencio and Steven Montoya of Grants.
“We just didn’t get it done in the semifinals, but we are pleased that we were able to take third,” Wahlman said.
The Portales girls team qualified for the four-entry field in the Class 1A-3A team competition. The Lady Rams play Ruidoso at 1:30 p.m. today in a match at Albuquerque Academy.
The winner plays in the girls team championship Saturday at 8 a.m, also at Academy.