By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The Portales boys and girls tennis teams both battled to team district championships this spring. This weekend, they hope to bring home a blue trophy for a state championship.
The Lady Rams enter the tournament seeded number two, behind Bosque School. The Portales girls face seventh-seeded Cobre in the quarterfinals Friday.
“I think it worked out in our favor that we were the number two (seed) because of who we are playing in our bracket,” Wallis said. “We are very familiar with those teams … we’ve seen Lovington twice and Saint Michael’s twice, so it’s to our advantage that we know those teams and how they play and what kind of depth they have through their lineup and that helps us a lot with our strategy.”
Wallis explains that the Lady Rams lineup has changed as the season developed.
The number one doubles team of senior Ella Erf and junior Bethany Self has been split. Erf will play with junior Kassandra Short, while Self will play alongside fellow junior Tessa Bryant.
“We need to win our doubles,” Wallis said. “In the past, our doubles have been sort of weak, and I know the lineups and I know that we will be a stronger team if we split up Bethany and Ella.”
Senior Jayna Nance teams up with eighth-grader Shelby Lucero in Portales’ third doubles team.
Erf and Self remain the Lady Rams’ top two singles, followed by Short, Bryant and Nance. Junior Tara Thron rounds out the top six singles players for Portales.
“We are confident that we will do well,” Wallis said. “We expect to make it to the semi-finals (against Saint Mike’s). We’ll do our best.”
Despite winning the District 4-3A championship over the New Mexico Military Institute, The Rams are seeded fifth while NMMI was seeded second.
“They did that just because of what the season average was,” Ram head coach Wade Fraze said. “They beat us twice real early and then we beat them in district.”
The Rams start out against fourth-seeded Sandia Prep Friday afternoon.
“I probably know less about them than I do any other team up there,” Fraze said. “But I feel like with the way we’re playing, we need to go and just do what we do best.”
The Rams are led by senior Kyle Adams, followed by sophomore Walker Partin, and older brother Skyler.
“Our top three are really close,” Fraze said. “I wouldn’t say they are interchangeable because they have different strengths and weaknesses, but they’re all really close.”
Senior Davey Riser is number four, followed by juniors Colton Stanton and Sunny Liu.
The Rams top doubles team consists of the Partin brothers, followed by Davey Riser and Adams. The Rams third doubles team is sophomore Ethan Riser and Stanton.
With the bracket set up, if Portales and NMMI do meet, it won’t be until the state championship match Saturday afternoon.
“We’re going to go and play as well as we can and go as far as we can, and I feel like we can play with anybody up there,” Fraze said.