By Eric Butler
ALBUQUERQUE — It’ll be all in the family when two Portales teams square off for the Class 1A-3A state doubles title on Thursday in Albuquerque.
But, well, you know how family relations can sometimes be.
The Rams’ duo of Sara Bulls and Kristen Van Wettering will play teammates of Hailey Quick and Rachelle Self in the finals at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.
All participants are just hoping not to have a repeat of the District 4 championship — the players began to bicker with each other in a 6-3, 6-3 victory by Bulls and Van Wettering last week.
“It was dumb stuff. It wasn’t bad, just being together too long,” said Quick, whose team knocked off the top St. Michael’s duo and, then, a contingent from Cobre on Wednesday to earn its berth in the championship match.
“Things can get a little personal sometimes,” said Van Wettering, after getting by another St. Mike’s squad and a duo from Ruidoso.
“It’s just harder, because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” added Bulls about the all-Portales match. “It’s like being in a family. We have two pairs of sisters on the team, so we all know what that’s like.”
Other Portales representatives fell short in their own bids to continue into a second day of the individual tournament.
Both Chance Plummer and Bryan Yeast dropped hard-fought contests with players from Las Vegas Robertson in opening-round boys singles matches.
Plummer lost to Jason Maestas 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 while Yeast succumbed to Marcus Martinez 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.
In boys’ doubles play, the Rams duo of Rustin Self and Jeremy Jones fell to the Santa Fe Prep team of Gould and Wilson 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
Morgan Erf, in girls singles, defeated Raton’s Cami Unger 6-2, 7-5 in her first round match. But Erf struggled against Ruidoso’s Heather McDougal in a 6-0, 6-1 quarterfinal loss.
Each of the Portales girls doubles teams who advanced did have moments of struggle in their first-day matches.
Bulls and Van Wettering breezed by the St. Michael’s team of Kat and Martine Lopez by a 6-1, 6-2 score in a quarterfinal contest. But the Portales pair did drop one set in a 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 rollercoaster semifinal match against Ruidoso’s Katherine Dunstan and Beth Robinson.
“We just got too confident in the second set,” Van Wettering said. “They’re good players, but we let them back into it.”
Quick and Self, meanwhile, dug out of a major deficit to win their first match of the day – and had to struggle not only with the talent of the St. Michael’s pair of Virginia Luff and Jessica Butler, but a rash of apparently missed line calls by one of the Lady Horsemen players.
Luff and Butler shut out the Portales pair in the first set, before Quick and Self rebounded for a 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory. Throughout the match, whose line calls are made by the players themselves unless an official is present, the Rams ignored many potential points of dispute.
“I just blew it off. If I got mad at her, I wouldn’t have been able to play our game,” Quick said. “We just had to keep our heads in it and ignore that.”