By Dave Wagner: PNT sports writer
When Portales High’s Ella Erf and Bethany Self take the No. 1 seed into doubles competition in this weekend’s Class 1A-3A state individual tennis tournament in Albuquerque, they’ll be shooting for perfection.
Neither has lost a match all season in singles, and they’ve compiled a 14-0 record in doubles competition.
PHS girls coach Michelle Wallis is confident the tandem can finish it off.
“I haven’t seen them struggle all year, even though we haven’t played schools like Bosque and Sandia Prep,” Wallis said. “These girls are mentally tough. When they practice, it’s very intense.”
Erf, a junior, and Self, a sophomore, earned a first-round bye and will begin their bid for a state title in a 2:30 p.m. quarterfinal match on Friday.
The Lady Rams have a second doubles team competing this weekend, with sophomores Kassandra Short and Tessa Bryant earning a No. 7 seed in the 16-team bracket. They play a first-round contest at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
Representing the PHS boys this weekend are senior Logan Brown in singles and senior Matt Tucker and junior Kyle Adams in doubles.
Erf caught the eye of some college scouts in last weekend’s state team competition in Albuquerque. She hasn’t even lost a set so far this season.
“I think as long as Beth and I play together and play our best, we have a good shot,” Erf said. “We enjoy playing together. As long as we work hard, and I know we will, we have high expectations.”
Wallis has no doubt about their work ethic, and also thinks the experience Short and Bryant gained last weekend will help them this time.
“They’re ready to compete, and they know what they have to do to win,” Wallis said.
Brown and Tucker were both on the PHS boys team that qualified for state a year ago. Brown (14-8) split two matches this season with his first-round opponent, Ruidoso freshman Jake Ordencia, and if he wins would take on top-seeded Ken Lynch of New Mexico Military in the quarters.
“I don’t want to underestimate (Ordencia), but he’s a younger guy,” Brown said. “He’s a good kid and he’s got a decent game. It’ll be a tough first-round match.
“(Lynch will) be a tough match, if I get there. I can’t overpower him. I’ll just try to keep returning and not hit it right to him.”
Boys coach Wade Fraze said the key against Lynch would be a good start.
“Not too many people stay with him,” Fraze said. “I feel like if (Brown) can start out well and keep it tight, he’d have a chance.”
Tucker and Adams drew a good seed and a first-round bye even though they’ve only played four matches together, winning three of them. They had other partners in doubles most of the season.
“They haven’t had that many matches together, but they’re getting better and better,” Fraze said.