Ram tennis hopes to hold court

By Kevin Wilson

Portales freshman Morgan Erf has compiled an impressive record as a singles player this season.
Still, a 20-1 record as a solo player on the court wasn’t enough to keep her from doubles partner Jessica Bulls.
“I like playing either (way) a lot,” Erf said after Thursday’s Portales High tennis practice. “A lot of those girls at state are really good, and I think that Jessie and I can do really well in doubles.”
The first step comes today at New Mexico Military Institute, as the Portales tennis teams take their aims at the rest of the district. Individual play is today at NMMI, with team play Saturday.
The defending state champion girls (18-2) are the first seed in the district, and will play either NMMI or Lovington.
“I think it’s a positive,” Portales coach Bill Wahlman said of the first-round bye. “I think we’ll be ready to play. They will have to win two matches (to win the district), but we have to win one. Those are better percentages.”
However, the girls have higher goals. They’d like to repeat as champions.
“I think we’ll win state,” Erf said. “We’ve got a great chance to win state.”
By the same token, the percentages don’t favor the Portales boys team. Portales is coming off a 15-5 regular season, but needs to be 17-5 to qualify for next weekend’s state tournament in Albquerque.
Portales faces Lovington in the first round of the team competition, and would play top seed NMMI for the right to go to state.
“In team competition, we need to win both doubles and at least one of the singles to go to state,” Wahlman said.
However, they’d have to beat Lovington to get that opportunity against the Colts.
“We hope in that case,” Wahlman said, “it will get us focused and ready to play the Institute, but we’ve got to beat Lovington. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.”
Senior Bryan Yeast is hopeful that Portales will get the chance to face NMMI, but knows that it would be tough to hand the Colts their first defeat of the year.
“It is especially tough,” Yeast said of NMMI. “They’re really tough, they’re disciplined. They know their ups and downs.”

Rams advance in tiebreaker
HOBBS — Seth Clabaugh and Kevin Cheatham both homered, and Clabaugh pitched a complete game in a 13-10 victory Thursday over New Mexico Military Institute.
The win gave Portales (16-9) the runnerup spot in District 4-3A, and will result in a regional championship game at Cobre Saturday, set for either 11 a.m. or noon.