By Kevin Wilson
Portales senior Chris Kirchner doesn’t know how he injured his shoulder, only that he wasn’t able to play for a few weeks.
He doesn’t know how long his shoulder will hurt, only that it doesn’t hurt enough to keep him out of his final district tournament.
“It still hurts, but I have to practice sometime,” Kirchner said between matches at Wednesday’s practice, the first time he had played since his shoulder didn’t feel right before an April 26 match with Goddard.
He hasn’t played since, and the Rams went 1-1 in a pair of non-district duals since that point. He’s expected to play in this weekend’s tournament at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell — Friday with senior Chance Plummer in doubles competition, Saturday as Portales’ No. 1 singles player.
Both the girls and boys teams will need at least a runnerup finish to advance to the state tournament. The boys are looking for their first appearance since 2000, when they finished second, while the girls are trying to win their third-straight title.
Rachelle Self, who will be playing on a doubles team with Kaycee Quick on Friday, said that Ruidoso will probably be the toughest competition both in the team and individual events.
“They’re pretty much all seniors,” Self said. “They last two years, we’ve played them at the state tournament and they haven’t lost anybody.”
On the boys side, NMMI is likely the toughest matchup, according to Portales coach Bill Wahlman.
“Their No. 1 and No. 2 (singles players) are really solid,” Wahlman said.
As for Portales’ No. 1-seeded player, Kirchner, it’s tough to tell whether his absence had an impact — Portales dropped a 6-3 decision against Goddard and later blanked Roswell 9-0 without him — but PHS tennis coach Bill Wahlman is glad to be penciling in Kirchner’s name come this weekend.
“He’s our No. 1 player, and we’re extremely glad to have him back,” Wahlman said.”
Portales is seeded against Ruidoso in the four-team district team tournament, and would play the winner of Lovington and NMMI.