Lady Rams’ duo takes state

Freedom Newspapers

ALBUQUERQUE — Even an inadvertent serve in the behind couldn’t stop Portales’ top-seeded girls doubles team on Saturday.

Junior Ella Erf and sophomore Bethany Self completed a perfect season with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Bosque sophomores Allie Coleman and Casey Manzanares in the finals of the Class 3A state individual tennis tournament at Albuquerque Academy.

Erf and Self won twice on Saturday — they rallied past junior Mara Masciotra and freshman Sarah Short of Sandia Prep 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals — and finished 17-0 for the spring. Both players were also unbeaten in singles this year.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” first-year PHS girls coach Michelle Wallis said. “We got here and competed. Both of them deserve this title. They work so hard.”

PHS’ other entry on Saturday, senior Matt Tucker and junior Kyle Adams, lost in the boys doubles semifinals to sophomore Emilio Garcia and freshman Placido Gomez of Las Vegas Robertson 6-1, 6-2. Garcia and Robertson, seeded No. 1, went on to win the championship with a 7-5, 7-6 victory over third-seeded Anthony Ortiz and Conor Pogue of Santa Fe St. Michael’s.

After surviving a scare against Sandia Prep, Erf and Self had a relatively easy time in the championship match. Leading 3-0 in the second set, they got a chuckle when Self’s serve plunked Erf in the fanny.

“I haven’t done that all year, and I did it in the state finals,” Self said. “I was just trying to serve it hard.”

No argument from her partner.

“It sure felt hard,” Erf said.

It took them a while to get into the flow.

“I think in the semifinal match we didn’t come out playing our best,” Self said. “We didn’t come out strong like we usually do.”

Both players were members of Portales’ Class 3A state championship volleyball team in the fall, and Self was a major force in the Lady Rams’ 3A state basketball championship in March.

Wallis said Erf, who was the singles runnerup last year in the individual tournament, provided leadership for her younger partner.

“Ella Erf is such a strong leader,” Wallis said. “Character, leadership, competitiveness — that’s Ella. She took Bethany under her wing and led her to the state championship.”

Tucker and Adams, meantime, struggled in their semifinal contest, PHS boys coach Wade Fraze said.

“If we’d played like we did (in Friday’s quarterfinals), I think it could’ve gone at least three sets and we might have won,” Fraze said. “They’re (Garcia and Gomez) a good team, but we just didn’t play the way we did yesterday.”

Tucker and Adams were paired late in the season after playing with different partners most of the spring. They finished with a record of 4-2.

“I think it would’ve benefited us if we could’ve played together all season, gotten used to each other’s game,” Adams said. “Considering the time frame, we did a good job getting in sync with each other.

“We’ve played (Garcia and Gomez) before. We knew their game and knew we had the ability to beat them, but today just wasn’t our day.”

Tucker said he and Adams struggled with their service games.

“They were pretty tough,” he said. “They kept coming to the net.

“We didn’t play our best today. They were playing (well at the net), and we just kept hitting it to them. We weren’t putting them away.”