By Dave Wagner
Portales High senior Rachelle Self has already enjoyed a highly successful high school tennis career — three Class 3A state team titles in four years, going back to eighth grade. She’s also qualified for state in doubles each of the last two years.
With only one player lost to graduation, she’s pretty optimistic about the Lady Rams’ chances for making it four out of five.
“I’m very excited about this year,” said Self, who also teamed with the graduated Haley Quick for a doubles state title last year. “I’m sure I’ll get a little nervous once the season starts, but the girls are working hard and preparing (to try to win) another state title.”
Bill Wahlman, beginning his 31st year as the school’s tennis coach, believes the boys also have a chance to do well, although they’re usually overshadowed by New Mexico Military Institute in District 4-3A and at the state level.
“We should be competitive,” Wahlman said. “We’ll see how the season progresses.”
Four seniors make up the nucleus of the boys squad — Chance Plummer, Chris Kirchner, Nathan Acker and Bronson Riser. Kirchner, who will probably play No. 2 or 3 singles and team with Plummer at No. 1 doubles, will join the squad at the end of the basketball season.
Those four will get support from juniors Logan Brown, Chase Acker and Matt Tucker.
“I think it’ll probably be a good year,” said Plummer, who lost in the singles semifinals at state last year to eventual champion Mario Flugenzi of Las Vegas Robertson. “This should be our year. I think we should get at least second at state as a team.”
The Rams lost only two of their top six to graduation, leading to optimism in preseason.
Plummer said he expects to challenge at the state level individually, and added that the Rams should be in good shape to do something as a team.
“In our district we don’t have much competition except for NMMI,” Plummer said. “I don’t know about this year, but in past years the other teams (Lovington and Ruidoso) have been down.
“A lot of people from other teams graduated, and we only lost one or two players.”
Self is the only senior among the Lady Rams’ top-line players. She has posted a 13-1 record in state doubles and team competition, Wahlman said.
Sophomore Morgan Self, who went 21-1 at No. 3 singles last season, should move up to No. 2, Wahlmeier said. Other top players are junior Jessica Bulls, sophomore Kaycee Quick and freshmen Bethany Self, Whitney Miller and Kassandra Short.
Bethany Self — Rachelle’s sister — is still involved with the basketball season.
Wahlman noted that the Lady Rams posted a 22-2 team record last year, while the boys went 16-6. He said a rugged schedule should prepare the team for postseason.
“We try to play some good tournaments, and play (against) some good west Texas teams and Class 4A and 5A teams,” he said. “Hopefully, we can use the schedule to our advantage.”
18-19 — at Roswell Goddard tournament.
5 — vs. Caprock, Robertson and Pampa, 8 a.m.; 11-12 — at Roswell High tournament; 18-19 — at Roswell High tournament, TBA.
1-2 — at Amarillo ISD tournament, TBA; 5 — at Artesia, 3 p.m.; 12 — at Ruidoso, 3 p.m.-x; 14 — Lovington, 3 p.m.-x; 19 — at New Mexico Military, 3 p.m.-x; 21 — Clovis, 3 p.m.; 26 — at Roswell Goddard, 3 p.m.; 28 — Roswell High, 3 p.m.
x-Denotes District 4-3A duals.