It was a good weekend all around for the Powell High School tennis teams, as both the Panthers and Lady Panthers finished sixth overall, scoring 23.5 and 14 points, respectively. Cheyenne Central took the top spot in both boys (35 points) and girls (54 points).
Boys No. 2 singles player Dylan Preator — who won the state title in his division (see related story) — and No. 1 singles player Jesse Brown were both named to the All-State team following the tournament.
Meanwhile, on the girls’ side, No. 2 single player Sierra Sanders and No. 3 doubles players Hailee Paul and Sami Cole each battled their way to fourth-place finishes.
The Lady Panthers finished sixth as a team for the tournament, improving on last year’s 11th-place finish.
“The girls did just fantastic, coming off fantastic regional results,” PHS head coach Joe Asay said. “The girls were just coming together and peaking at the right time, great match-ups for all of our positions.”
At the No. 1 singles spot, Lady Panther Elise North went 1-2, winning in her opening match in the consolation bracket against Rawlins’ Selena Landa 7-5, 6-3.
“Elise worked hard in the off-season, and had a good, strong hold on that No.1 spot all season for us,” Asay said. “She was in good shape for the state tournament and played some good tennis — she just ultimately came up short.”
In No. 2 singles, Sanders capped a successful senior season with a fourth-place finish at state, compiling a 3-2 record. Sanders won her first two matches of the tournament against Laramie’s Grace Dorrell and Rawlins’ Mackenzie Thompson before losing to Cody’s Teagan Thompson in the semi-finals.
“Great results for Sierra Sanders, she just had a really great senior year,” Asay said. “She gave herself a couple of first-round wins to put herself right there in the semifinals in the two singles spot. Cody’s Teagan Thompson was just too strong, and Sierra couldn’t quite get that done. Another good result for our girls there.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Shayla Shoopman and Sloane Asay won their opening-round match against Cheyenne East’s Addison Turner and Lindsay Eldred 6-4, 7-5. The team dropped their next two matches, however, ending their tournament 1-2.
“Our one doubles team of Shayla Shoopman and Sloane Asay had kind of a slow start to the year as they tried to work out how they’d play together,” coach Asay said. “They competed well at state, but unfortunately came up short Friday.”
The No. 2 doubles team of Ashley Dunkerley and Sophe Morrow finished 3-2, winning their opening match against Cheyenne East (6-0, 6-3) before losing to Green River in the quarterfinals (6-2, 6-4). They beat opponents from Riverton (6-0, 6-0) and Thunder Basin (4-6, 6-3, 6-2) before falling to Cody (6-0, 6-3).
The No. 3 doubles team of Paul and Cole won their first two matches against teams from Rock Springs (7-6, 6-2) and Green River (6-4, 6-2). The duo lost in the semifinals against the team from Kelly Walsh in three sets, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, eventually finishing fourth.
“The No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams really came together well those last few matches of the season,” coach Asay said. “It was so critical to see them compete so well down the stretch against Cody and Kelly Walsh, and they took that right into regionals. We knew they would be competitive at state, and they sure were.”
The Panthers’ No. 1 singles player Jesse Brown finished 3-2 for the tournament, winning his opening-round match against Rawlins’ Ryan Pfeffer 6-1, 6-1 before losing in the quarterfinals against Laramie’s Kyle Moore in three sets. In the consolation bracket, Brown finished 1-1, with a win against Thunder Basin’s Jack Voigt (6-3, 6-3) and a loss to Jackson’s Nate Fairbanks (6-3, 6-0).
“We were excited for Jesse Brown to see how another year under his belt might look,” coach Asay said. “We knew there were going to be some tough kids at that No. 1 singles spot, so we knew it would be a challenge for Jesse. ... Hopefully he came away with some good positives for the season, recognizing he’s one of the top boys players in the state.”
In No. 1 doubles, the Panthers’ Aidan Jacobsen and Grant Dillivan finished 2-2 for the tournament, highlighted by an opening-round win against Cheyenne South in three sets, 6-1, 6-7, 6-2. After dropping to the consolation bracket, Jacobsen and Dillivan beat Cody in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.
“There is some pretty competitive tennis at the No. 1 doubles position,” coach Asay said. “It was good to see Grant and Aidan really playing well. They got as far as they could — not a bad showing at all.”
The No. 2 doubles team of Jay Cox and Aidan Hunt were 2-2 for the tournament with wins over the teams from Rock Springs (6-2, 6-2) and Green River (3-6, 6-3, 6-4) in the first two rounds of the consolation bracket.
“My two doubles, that was a tough spot to be,” coach Asay said. “Aidan Hunt is a senior and this was his first year at the varsity level, the same for Jay Cox. They really started to click together and see the ball well. They made a pretty good go of it this go-round. But not a bad run at all for those two.”
The freshmen duo of Logan Brown and Aiden Chandler did well in their first state tournament appearance, finishing 1-2 with a win over the team from Cheyenne East in the consolation bracket 6-2, 6-3.
“I’m super-excited about my freshmen boys there, playing some varsity tennis,” coach Asay said. “They’ll have some kids nipping at their heels come next season. It was a great opportunity for them.”
With Hunt the only senior on the boys’ side, “we’re looking at some really good kids coming back, as well as a few kids from the top of the JV rankings,” coach Asay said.
The girls team, meanwhile, will lose three players in North, Sanders and Shoopman.
“With the graduation of those three, there will be some big openings next season,” the coach said, adding that there are many talented girls on the JV team. “It should be exciting.”