By Eric Butler
ALBUQUERQUE — Having previous experience in state championship doubles matches, neither Sara Bulls or Kristen Van Wettering of Portales found winning the doubles title quite the fulfullment most say it is.
The reason was simple: the championship came at the expense of teammates Hailey Quick and Rachelle Self.
Bulls and Van Wettering took the Class 1A-3A state doubles title with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win over Quick and Self at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.
“It feels good — I think we deserved it,” said Bulls of the championship match experience. “But, this time, it was totally different.”
Last year, Bulls teamed with Krista Yeast and fell in the girls doubles final to a Sandia Prep squad. As for Van Wettering, this is the second state championship team she’s been a part of.
In 2001, Van Wettering and Rebecca Burns beat a New Mexico Military Institute duo for the title.
“It was better then,” said Van Wettering after the match. “Because, well, because Rachelle is like my best friend.”
Quick and Self, like in a quarterfinal contest on Wednesday, started slow against their teammates.
“It’s a curse, but we dealt with it,” said Quick, whose team eventually forced a deciding third set before Bulls and Van Wettering walked away with the title.
“I’m so proud of our match, we both played so well,” Quick added.
Portales coach Bill Wahlman spent the entire match off to the side without engaging either duo in instruction.
“I didn’t talk to them at all. I just wanted them to play well — and they both did,” Wahlman said. “They’re four really super girls. Maybe the best part of the match was when they came to the net and hugged and congratulated each other.
“That’ll be what they remember the most in the end.”
The Portales girls will now focus on someone else to beat.
The Rams face St. Michael’s in the first round of the team portion of the state competition — starting Friday at the Lobo Tennis Complex in Albuquerque.
Bulls and Van Wettering are seniors at Portales, while Quick is a junior and Self a sophomore.
Even before the next group of competitors took the court, the younger Rams were already planning ahead.
“We’re taking state next year,” Quick said. “We’ve already decided.”