By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — Even after she woke up on Thursday, Portales sophomore Morgan Erf knew she was due for another wake-up call later that morning.
This one, however, wasn’t from the hotel front desk. It was, instead, from the preeminent girls prep player in the state over the last two years — and it was on the courts at Albuquerque Academy at the state tennis competition.
Erf, a winner of one quarterfinal match the day before to get into the final four, fell to Sandia Prep’s Mariana Spilca in the semifinals 6-0, 6-0 to end her individual voyage through the Class 1A-3A singles draw.
“It was a good experience, I guess. She was just really awesome. I tried my best, but I just couldn’t pull through,” Erf said. “I started out shaky, because I was playing Spilca. I tried to just get some points off her.
“She can just place the ball so well and she just gets everything back,” the Portales sophomore added. “She can just hit it hard and wherever she wants it to go.”
Erf, however, rebounded to beat a district rival — Christine Brown of Ruidoso — by a 6-4, 7-5 count to gather the third-place trophy later in the day.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it to the finals next year,” Erf said.
Portales had two other third-place finishes as the individual portion of the tennis tournament wrapped up.
The boys doubles squad of Chris Kirchner and Chance Plummer swept past St. Michael’s Conor Pogue and Nicholas Salazar 6-3, 6-1 to grab third.
On Wednesay, the Kirchner/Plummer tandem lost a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 decision to another St. Mike’s duo (Luke Amer and Andrew Winter).
“Last year, I played for third place too – with a different partner – and I just didn’t want to do the same thing. It’s not the same playing for third as it is for a championship,” Kirchner said. “At first, he (Plummer) told me I needed to get into the match, because I was still mad from yesterday.
“Then, finally, we got it going and played a good second set,” he added.
The Portales girls duo of senior Rachelle Self and sophomore Kaycee Quick also played for third — and won 6-2, 6-0 over the Bosque School team of Allie Coleman and Casey Manzanares.
Last year, Self teamed with Quick’s older sister, Hailey, to gather the 1A-3A doubles crown. Like Kirchner, the Portales senior did come away with some sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
“We had a rough time yesterday, but we got through it today and got third,” Self said. “Today was good. We really got over it.”
The team portion of the tennis tournament begins today. The Portales boys will play Robertson while the girls will vie with West Las Vegas in quarterfinal action at the Albuquerque Tennis Complex.