Panther tennis teams celebrate season

Sierra Sanders, Dylan Preator named MVPs

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The Powell High School tennis teams recently celebrated their 2018 seasons, honoring athletes with a number of postseason awards.

The Panthers and the Lady Panthers each finished sixth at the state tournament in Gillette in September. On the boys’ side, Jesse Brown and Dylan Preator earned All-State honors, in No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively. Preator was the state champion in No. 2 singles.

For the girls, senior Sierra Sanders finished fourth at state in No. 2 singles, while the No. 3 doubles team of Hailee Paul and Sami Cole also finished fourth.

The tennis program finished the season with 38 players.

“We had the eight and eight on varsity, but for those kids that don’t have the opportunity to play varsity, we have a great JV program, and the kids seem to enjoy it,” said PHS head coach Joe Asay.

Of the 38 tennis players, “I think most all of them were there to enjoy the awards ceremony,” Asay said. “It’s nice to be able to get together and recognize those kids for what they did over the course of the season.”

Varsity letters were handed out, as well as individual awards — including Most Improved, Most Inspirational and Most Valuable.

At the varsity level, Sophe Morrow and Logan Brown were named Most Improved, while Shayla Shoopman and Aidan Hunt were named Most Inspirational.

Sanders and Preator were named Most Valuable.

On the JV side, Most Improved went to Alora Walker and Austin Chandler, while Whitney Hull, Takota Hammond and Joe Kousoulos were named Most Inspirational.

Sydnee Thompson and Ethan Bartholomew were named Most Valuable.

“The kids are all so deserving,” Asay said. “We have a lot of kids out there working awfully hard, especially those Most Improved ones, it’s always tough to make a choice in that category, because you always see those improvements as we go through the season. Some are real evident.”

First-year letter winners included Logan Brown, Aiden Chandler, Austin Chandler, Sami Cole, Jay Cox, Grant Dillivan, Aidan Hunt, Sophe Morrow, Elise North and Lane Summers.

Multi-year letter winners were Sloane Asay, Jesse Brown, Ashley Dunkerley, Aidan Jacobsen, Hailee Paul, Dylan Preator, Sierra Sanders and Shayla Shoopman.

“We had a lot of return kids move up into the varsity ranks, especially among the freshmen,” coach Asay said. “It was definitely nice to have some depth this season.”

Now a few weeks removed from the state tournament, Asay took a moment to reflect on what he called “a great season.”

“We had some unknowns going in, probably more so on the girls’ side,” he said. “But they ended up coming out and really competing, taking third in our regional tournament. That says a lot, because the north side is pretty strong. I was pretty pleased by that.”

Asay and JV coach Brandon Preator are also encouraged by the level of commitment displayed by the players who will be returning next season.

“The biggest thing that coach Preator and I come away with is that the enthusiasm for tennis is just really high,” Asay said. “The kids are excited about tennis. It wanes a bit as the kids move into their other sports and activities, but the kids were still meeting for a couple of Saturdays after the season ended to just play tennis. ... To really improve, it has to be something more than just grabbing that racket when the season starts, and they recognize that.”

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