Classic draws crowd

By Marc Schoder

Tennis players young and old came out from around the Portales area to participate in the 35th annual Bill Wahlman Classic, an 11 bracket tennis tournament at Eastern New Mexico University Zia Tennis Courts.
“We had 50 players come out from high school aged kids to 40-year-old adults,” said Hailey Radloff, one of this year’s organizers. Radloff played high school tennis under Wahlman for four years, when she was known as Hailey Quick, and graduated in 2004.
As a first-time organizer, Radloff thought the tournament went well. She was one of two main organizers, along with her father Lee Quick and former Portales High tennis player Travis Holt.
“This (tournament has been) pretty successful even though planning started two weeks ago,” Radloff added.
The tournament was divided into junior and adult events. Junior events ran Friday, and finals from adult events are scheduled to go through Sunday.
The tournament was formerly named the Portales Open and was managed by Bill and Shirley Wahlman. The two could be found at this year’s tournament as well, but only as spectators.
“It is enjoyable to watch the players I had coached in high school,” Bill Wahlman said from a folding chair that he called home for most of Saturday.
The tournament has mixed doubles matches in three different age groups of 14 and under, 16 and under, 16 and over. The classic also had singles and doubles tournaments for women over 35 and men over 35.
In hopes of keeping tennis interest in Portales strong, tournament organizers are branching out to larger organizations.
“I have been working with a coach in Hobbs about turning the classic into a USTA tournament,” said Radloff. “Next year we will advertise (the tournament) during the high school tennis season.”
One benefactor of the tournament is the Portales High School Tennis Fund, which will receive $400, Radloff said.