By Kevin Wilson
Imagine planning a date for three months. Making sure everything’s set up for the situation. Finding out what to say and not to say.
Finally, a week before the big date, somebody calls to say you still have a date — only with a different partner.
In a way, that’s how the Portales girls tennis team feels right now. The Lady Rams have been building up for a rematch with defending state champion Sandia Prep, who kept Portales from repeating at the Class 1A-3A state tournament.
However, Sandia Prep was upset in district play by St. Michael’s, meaning Portales will play Friday against the Lady Horsemen instead of Sandia Prep and nationally ranked Mariane Spilca.
Portales senior Kristen Van Wettering said she was looking forward to a matchup Spilca, who beat Van Wettering 6-4, 6-0 in their state tournament matchup last season. Van Wettering doubts she’d have beaten Spilca, but she liked the Lady Rams’ chances in a match.
“I think it would have been OK because our bottom half would have taken care of us,” Van Wettering said. “I’m glad we’re playing St. Michael’s. I’m not sure if we should be more scared because they beat Sandia Prep, but we can beat them if we play our game.”
Portales faces off with the Lady Horsemen at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.
The Lady Rams will face either Robertson or Ruidoso on Saturday. The state title match is set for 9:45 a.m. at the University of New Mexico, while the third-place match will start at 9:45 a.m. at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.
Portales (11-2) comes in as a favorite, having placed third in 2002 and winning it all in 2001. The Lady Rams went 11-2 over the season, with their only losses coming to 4A Roswell High.
The Rams will be staying home for the state tournament, despite an 11-3 mark. The Portales boys lost all three of their matches, including last weekend’s district championship, to two-time defending state champion New Mexico Military Institute.
If Portales does match up with NMMI again, it will be in individual play, which runs Wednesday and Thursday. Matchups are posted at the New Mexico Activities Association site.
Jeremy Jones and Rustin Self will represent Portales in doubles, while Bryan Yeast and Chance Plummer will go in singles play.
Jones would like to get a rematch against NMMI’s doubles team of Will Burke and Sergio Lopez. He and Self will get a chance to if they reach the 1A-3A doubles title match.
“Our chances are pretty good,” Jones said. “Our first-round match should be pretty tough, but if we can get past that, we’ll have some confidence.”
Van Wettering and Sara Bulls will also be competing for a doubles title in individual play. Morgan Erf will represent the Lady Rams in singles play.