PNT Staff Report
ALBUQUERQUE — Senior Ella Erf wanted to finish her tennis career at Portales with a singles state championship. She didn’t find a title, but as she exits stage left, she does so with a third place trophy.
Erf lost in the 3A semifinals in straight sets Saturday to Bosque freshman Dara McDevitt 3-6, 5-7, before beating Sandia Prep’s Chelsea Lehman 6-1, 6-2 to grab third place.
“I’m really proud of Ella. It was an emotional match for her,” Lady Ram head coach Michelle Wallis said. “From the start of the season she said, ‘I am going to win singles in state, I am going singles and I am going to win,’ and it was heartbreaking for her, but on the other hand she was really proud that she beat Lehman to take third.”
Erf and teammate Bethany Self won an undefeated doubles individual title last year, before making the decision to compete in singles this season.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Wallis said. “3A competition in tennis is pretty tough — I’d say tougher than 4A and 5A and I think we did fairly well. You couldn’t ask for a better group of girls. They’re great leaders and they support each other and they’re a team.”
In the boys bracket, brothers Skyler and Walker Partin lost their semifinal match to the Las Vegas-Robertson pair of Ethan Maestas and Emilio Gomez 6-2, 6-0. Maestas and Gomez went on to win the Class 3A doubles title.
“Skyler and Walker did really well,” Wallis said. “I wish it came out in their favor but Robertson is really good.”
As for the future of the Portales tennis program, things look bright.
The boys are losing seniors Kyle Adams, Skyler Partin and Davey Riser, but they retain sophomores Walker Partin and Ethan Riser as well as junior Colton Stanton.
Despite the losses of seniors Erf and Jayna Nance, the Lady Rams have a stable of strong girls returning as well. Self figures to play number one singles competing with fellow juniors Kassandra Short and Tessa Bryant.
Self and Bryant may also team up as Portales’ number one doubles.
“Next year is going to be Tessa Bryant’s year to step up,” Wallis said. “Her and Bethany will probably be the number one doubles team next year and that’s going to be a hard team to beat because Bethany and Tessa have this chemistry where they play excellent together.”
Wallis also revealed that Short will probably be paired with one of Portales’ younger players — likely Shelby Lucero or Lauren Woodward.