At last weekend's state tournament in Cheyenne, the Powell High School tennis teams showed the improvement they made over the course of the season, but faced stiff competition.
Given the tough draws the Panthers squads faced in their matches, often against No. 1 seeds, “We actually beat the odds,” said PHS head coach Ray Bieber.
BreaAnn Hollenbeck, the PHS girls' No. 2 singles player, had what Bieber called a “really good” tournament, coming up just one match short of reaching the championship bout.
“She was probably within five points of getting in the final,” said Bieber.
Hollenbeck pushed the eventual champion to three sets — giving the winner her toughest competition of the state tournament.
“We're looking forward to good things with her (Hollenbeck),” Bieber said of the sophomore.
At No. 3 doubles, seniors Shelby Walton and Haylee Humphries were just one win away from reaching the third-place match.
As a team, the PHS girls finished ninth in the 16-team field; all of the girls won at least one match in the double-elimination tourney. The PHS boys took 14th, with three points.
Gillette emerged as the state champion on both sides, with its girls taking 58 points and its boys taking 47.
Bieber said the Powell squads' performance in Cheyenne showed improvement since the start of the season.
“We need to come in and be right where we are (now) at the beginning of next year,” he said.
Girls No. 1 singles player Lisa Schiermeister drew eventual champion Kristyn Wykert in her opening match, falling 6-0, 6-1. Schiermeister then handily took down Rawlins' Lindsey Paschke 6-1, 6-0. Dealing with a leg injury, the senior was eliminated by Melinda Gonzalez of Cheyenne East in split sets, 6-7 (7-5), 6-0, 6-0.
Hollenbeck beat Cheyenne South's Jessica Grass 6-0, 6-0, to open her state tournament and came back to take down Karolyn Hopfensperger of Cheyenne Central, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0. Hollenbeck then fell in split sets to the eventual champion, Taylor Hinshaw of Gillette, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. In the consolation bracket, Hollenbeck was eliminated by Sheridan's Rachel Wood — the third-place finisher — 6-4, 7-5.
“She was actually really close to winning the whole tournament,” Bieber said.
At No. 1 doubles, juniors Emily Kath and Lacey Eckerdt lost to Cheyenne East in a close contest, 6-3, 6-7 (9-7), 7-5. In the consolation bracket, they beat Cheyenne South 6-0, 6-0 and fell to Cheyenne Central, 6-3, 6-1.
Senior Marquette McArthur and sophomore Sheridan Roling fell in a close 7-5, 6-4 opening match at No. 2 doubles. They rebounded to beat Cheyenne East 6-0, 6-0, but were eliminated 6-1, 6-4 by Cheyenne Central.
Playing at No. 3 doubles, Walton and Humphries began with a 6-0, 6-0 takedown of Rawlins, then fell to second-place finisher Sheridan, 6-2, 6-1. Walton and Humphries then beat Riverton, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), and Kelly Walsh, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. The duo was eliminated by Natrona County, the third-place winner, 6-0, 6-1.
PHS boys No. 1 singles player Eric Curtis opened with a 6-0, 6-1 loss to eventual state champion Aaron Lapkin of Cheyenne East. Curtis rebounded with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Nathan Smith of Green River before falling Rock Springs' Tim Lew, 6-2, 6-2. Bieber said he was pleased to see the PHS junior pick up a win at state.
At No. 2 singles, Mark Schiermmeister lost 6-4, 6-1 to Cody Hansen of Rock Springs and then fell in split sets to Morgan Gray of Cheyenne Central, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
“Mark played his best tennis of the year,” said Bieber, saying he's looking forward to good things in the future from the freshman.
Continuing a trend of close matches, junior Todd Lewis and senior Tyler Morgan of Rocky Mountain High School fell 6-2, 6-2 to fourth-place finisher Torrington, then lost 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to Cheyenne East at No. 1 doubles.
At No. 2 doubles, senior Jacob Larson and sophomore Marshall McArthur began with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 win over their Cheyenne East counterparts.
After a 6-1, 7-5 loss to Torrington, Larson and McArthur beat Riverton 6-3, 6-0. They were then eliminated in split sets, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 to Rock Springs.
“They lost to the third and fourth place teams so it was a pretty tough draw for them,” said Bieber.
Patrick Huang, a sophomore exchange student from Taiwan, and senior Dillon Jeffs lost in split sets to Laramie's No. 3 doubles squad, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-1. They again came up on the wrong side of a close match in the consolation bracket, falling 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Rawlins.
Bieber said the PHS tennis players had excellent sportsmanship and attitudes throughout the season.
“(The) kids were great this year,” said Bieber. “(We) had great trips, great relationships between players.”
He also said the teams are losing a good crop of seniors and have work to do before fall 2011.
“We've got to have a great spring and a great summer,” said Bieber. “If you have a great spring and a great summer, you've got hope.”