The Powell High School tennis teams traveled to Casper over the weekend, squaring off against Kelly Walsh and Natrona County to finish out the regular season.
The Panthers, led by dominating performances in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions, began the day with a clean sweep over Kelly Walsh 5-0. The afternoon’s matches against Natrona County proved to be a little more competitive, with the Powell boys holding on for a 3-2 win.
The Lady Panthers struggled against Kelly Walsh, losing 5-0, before rebounding with a 5-0 sweep over Natrona County to end the day on a positive note.
“It was a good weekend, really,” said PHS head coach Joe Asay. “I think we’re in pretty good shape heading into regionals.”
Panthers 5, Kelly Walsh 0
The Panthers swept all five matches against the Trojans.
Junior Jesse Brown had another dominating performance against Kelly Walsh’s Buck Harris, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-0.
“Jesse is just kind of rolling right now,” Asay said. “A kid’s gotta come with a lot of game to be able to do much damage there.”
In the No. 2 singles spot, Panther Dylan Preator was also a victor in straight sets, beating Drew Rasmussen 6-2, 6-4.
“With Dylan, it’s kind of the same deal, he doesn’t have a lot of the tennis experience and a lot of time on the courts like Jesse does,” Asay said. “Sometimes that shows up a little bit, but for the most part, he’s just really dominant in his play.”
The duo of Aidan Jacobsen and Grant Dillivan continue to play well together, though they were pushed to three sets in the No. 1 doubles spot by Austin Putnam and Jackson Catchpole. After winning the first set 7-6, the Panther pair dropped the second 7-6. They rallied in the third set to cruise to a 6-1 win and the match.
In No. 2 doubles, the relatively new pairing of Aidan Hunt and Jay Cox broke into the win column with a three-set win over Colten Allaire and Hunter Spangler 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
In the No. 3 spot, Powell’s freshmen combo of Logan Brown and Aiden Chandler downed Parker Phillips and Derek Robinson in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
“The best thing I saw with those three doubles teams was the two freshmen boys [Brown and Chandler] to get out there and get a win,” Asay said. “That was a lot of fun to see.”
Kelly Walsh 5, Lady Panthers 0
The Powell girls found the going tougher against the Lady Trojans, who Asay believes may have just one loss. at the No. 1 doubles spot.
“They’re a really tough team,” coach Asay said.
Kelly Walsh freshman Finley Klinger made short work of Powell’s Elise North in the No. 1 singles spot, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-0.
“[Klinger], unlike Elise [North] has had some tournament play and match experience,” Asay said. “But Elise got out there and played some points with her, and had a good experience against a freshman who can probably win this whole thing at the No. 1 spot.”
In No. 2 singles, Lady Panther Sierra Sanders fell to Lily Putnam 6-1, 6-4.
“I thought Sierra really competed well in spots,” Asay said. “She was in a position to try and take a set, but came up short.”
The Kelly Walsh duo of Josette Bowers and Kylie Spangler took down Powell’s Shayla Shoopman and Sloane Asay 6-3, 6-0 in No. 1 doubles, while in the No. 2 spot, Kailey Walker and Sage Dobby defeated Lady Panthers Ashley Dunkerley and Sophe Morrow 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. Powell’s No. 3 doubles team of Hailee Paul and Sami Cole lost in straight sets to Sarah Griner and Jada Collins 6-4, 6-2.
“Kelly Walsh’s one doubles team won it all last year, so that was a pretty tough matchup,” coach Asay said. “My two and three doubles teams, playing these Kelly Walsh girls who have had such great success, really played deep with them. That was really fun to see both sets of those girls play well.”
Lady Panthers 5, Natrona County 0
Unlike the earlier contest, the Lady Panthers were on the right side of a clean sweep against Natrona County, winning all five matches.
“That was a fun opportunity for the girls to finish out the day with a 5-0 win down there,” coach Asay said. “They were great wins across the board.”
In the No. 1 singles spot, North easily defeated Alexis Holscher 6-1, 6-0, while Sanders, in the No. 2 spot, didn’t give up a game against Kayla Stibley 6-0, 6-0.
The No. 1 doubles team of Shoopman and Sloane Asay survived dropping the first set to Mikayla Colling and Reece Potter 6-4 before rallying 6-3, 6-2 to win the match.
“They [Shoopman and Asay] got off to kind of a slow start there in that first set, but got things working and finished strong,” Asay said.
Dunkerley and Morrow rolled through Natrona’s Kelsie Dickerson and Dani Busch 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 2 doubles spot, while in the No. 3 match, Paul and Cole made short work of Taylin Smith and Airieona Horn 6-1, 6-1.
“It’s definitely nice to have those wins,” Asay said. “It’s been a fun trip. We have a lot of kids who are new to the varsity tennis experience, and it’s great to see them really competing well.”
Panthers 3, Natrona County 2
The Panthers had a little tougher time against their Natrona counterparts, but were able to win, 3-2.
“For the boys, it was a little different story there, a little more competitive in the matches,” Asay said.
Brown and Preator once again rolled through the competition at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots. Brown was a winner in straight sets over Ben Radosevich 6-2, 6-1.
Preator had a little tougher test against Natrona’s Brayden Busch, easily winning the first set 6-0, but dropping the second 7-5. Preator regained control of the match in the third set, winning 6-2.
“Dylan just kind of struggled a little bit, once again a lack of match experience,” Asay said. “He struggled to finish his kid off in the second set and had to go to the third, but it was a good experience for him. He certainly recognized some of the things he needs to do differently to be able to get through and finish those matches.”
In No. 1 doubles, Jacobsen and Dillivan were losers in three sets to Natrona’s Max Radosevich and Carter Boatright 4-6, 6-4, 2-6; the No. 3 doubles team of Brown and Chandler also lost in three sets to Ryan Swan and Henry True 6-4, 4-6, 4-6.
That meant it came down to the No. 2 doubles team of Aidan Hunt and Jay Cox in the deciding match of the contest, and the pair didn’t disappoint, winning in three sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“They [Hunt and Cox] gave us that third win, and finished the weekend 2-0,” Asay said. “They are really coming through well. It was good tennis, it really was.”
The PHS tennis teams are gearing up for the regional tournament this week, beginning Friday in Gillette. The results of regionals will determine seeding for the following week’s state tournament, also held in Gillette. Last year’s regional tournament was canceled due to weather, so Asay is keeping his fingers crossed that this week’s sunny conditions will hold.
“Lord willing, we’ll have some good weather. We haven’t had that for the last two years,” he said. “It’s important from an experience standpoint that the kids get these matches in.”