Portales overpowers Clovis in tennis

By Kevin Wilson

It was the question on everybody’s mind following Thursday night’s tennis matches: Why doesn’t Patricia Gallegos wear a hairtie?
“I like to wear my lucky visor,” the Clovis sophomore and No. 1 singles player said of her hair habit and her 3-year-old Adidas visor, “and I dont like to wear a pony tail with my visor on.”
Now that that’s out of the way, the easier questions come, such as did the shorthanded Clovis teams stand a chance against Portales’ full varsity squads?
Apparently not. Clovis split a set in girls’ play and pushed the Portales boys to a pair of tiebreakers, but never seriously challenged the host Rams in the non-district matches at the Bill Wahlman Tennis Complex.
The Portales boys improved to 9-2 with the 9-0 win, while the Lady Rams moved to 9-2 with an 8-1 triumph.
The large margin of victory wasn’t too upsetting to Clovis coach Billie Merritt, who once took private lessons from Portales coach Bill Wahlman when she played at CHS in the late ’80s.
Merritt didn’t use it as an excuse, but noted that she had 10 of her 15 girls tennis players away for band-related activities coming into Thursday. While she still had most of her varsity team, the Lady Wildcats were forced to forfeit both No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles.
However, the biggest impact might have been to the boys team, which had to use several junior varsity players and was simply overmatched by Portales.
“The girls won’t be quite so changed up when we play again on (May) 5, but the boys will,” Merritt said. “It’s nice that these kids get some varsity experience, though.”
Andrea Curry was the only winner for Clovis, beating Sara Bulls 6-0, 6-4 in No. 2 singles.
Curry and Gallegos teamed up for No. 1 doubles against Bulls and Kristen Van Wettering, but lost a three-set match after winning the first set in a tiebreaker.
“In the second set,” Gallegos said, “we weren’t lobbing the ball as well. We got tired, I guess.”
Bulls and Van Wettering recovered after losing a 7-3 tiebreaker in the first set, then cruised to take a 6-7, 6-0, 6-1 win. Though it didn’t make any impact on the team standings, Wahlman thought the victory was a good one for his girls.
“What was important about it,” Wahlman said, “was that we are planning for them to play doubles in district.
“It was important also (that) after they lost the tiebreaker, they came back in 13 games to win it. Normally when players lose a tiebreaker, they play worse in the second and third sets.”
Clovis will host Portales on May 5, with matches starting at 3 p.m. The match was originally scheduled for April 15, but was postponed due to excessive wind. Portales will host Goddard on Tuesday, while Clovis faces Manzano on Saturday.