By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
ALBUQUERQUE — It was a day of ups and downs for the Portales Lady Rams tennis team Saturday at the Class 1A-3A team tournament at Albuquerque Academy.
Following an emotional 5-4 morning semifinal victory over St. Michael’s, the Lady Rams were quickly swept by top-seeded and top-ranked Bosque School 9-0 in the championship match.
Lady Rams coach Michelle Wallis thought her girls may have been a little star-struck.
“I thought we were a little intimidated going into Bosque,” Wallis said. “I thought we could have done a little bit better,.
“I need to give credit to Bosque because they were a very good team — I mean they were a great team and they deserved the title. I just thought we would do a little better in the (No. 1 and No. 2) spot.”
Lady Rams senior Ella Erf was dominated in No. 1 singles, losing 6-0, 6-0 to Bosque’s Molly McDevitt.
“She played like a man,” Wallis said of McDevitt. “She strokes the ball hard — very, very hard.”
Portales junior Kassandra Short fell 6-0, 6-2, while Tessa Bryant lost 6-3, 6-3. Jayna Nance and Tara Thron were also swept in straight sets.
“We were on a high against St. Mike’s,” Wallis said. “It kind of drained us. in a way. We had really good matches against St. Michael’s and we just went into Bosque thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, these girls are No. 1 in the state. Their all USTA-southwest ranked, and I think that got into our heads a little bit.”
Wallis did see a shining effort from her top junior against one of the top players in the state.
“Bethany Self went head-to-head with their No. 2 (player),” Wallis said. “She did excellent. She won a set, they were back-and-forth. Bethany did really well, it was a good match.”
Earlier in the day, the Portales girls stung a new rival in 3A tennis by edging St. Mike’s 5-4.
“It made me really happy to beat St. Mike’s,” said Bryant, a junior. “I feel like I can beat anyone right now … but I doubt I can. Bethany kept us going, she kept pushing and pushing.”
Doubles partners Self and Short came from behind after badly losing the first set to beat their St. Mike’s opponents 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 to tilt the balance to Portales 5-4 over the Lady Horsemen in what has become a heated competition this season.
“This match was very intense,” Wallis said. “They have heart and they wanted to play. They want to win. We’ve been practicing all season for this, and this proves that hard work pays off.’
Despite losing Erf to graduation, the Portales girls return the majority of their lineup for next year.
“It’s hard when you lose seniors, especially Ella,” Wallis said. “It’s a big loss. But I have Bethany Self, Kassandra Short, Tessa Bryant, Tara Thron, Shelby Lucero and Lauren Woodward all coming back next year.”