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PHS tennis teams wrap up season

Improving upon their performance at regionals, eight of Powell High School’s 10 competitors won at least one match at the state tennis tournament.

No Panther competitors made the finals, but a couple came close.

“We had some really good performances,” said PHS head coach Ray Bieber.

The boys finished ninth among the state’s 16 teams with six points.

Host Gillette handily reclaimed the state title by having a competitor in all five of the finals and winning all three doubles competitions. The hosting Campbell County High Schoolers had 63 points, followed by Cody’s 40.

Powell’s Lady Panthers finished in a tie for 10th with 5.5 points. Natrona County’s girls won the event with 49 points.

“The cool thing about this team is we were competitive in every single match,” said Bieber. “We didn’t get blown away.”

Even in the matches that appeared lopsided, “we were still battling in every point,” the coach said.

He called his squad a good, fun bunch of players.

“It’s always fun to see the kids make good calls, get along with other people, make new friends. It’s very cool,” Bieber said of the state tourney overall.

In No. 1 singles action, Sam Prestwich lost 6-0, 6-0 against Cheyenne Central’s Aaron Kelly and 6-3, 6-1 to Cheyenne South’s Mark Broyles.

Prestwich played solid points against Central and the match against South was a lot closer than it looked, Bieber said.

Freshman Cody Akin made a strong run at No. 2 singles.

He defeated Riverton’s Brennan Hansen in his opening match and followed it up with a 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1 win over David Gilmore of Jackson to reach the semi-finals.

Akin came up short against Gillette’s Sam Coulter (the second-place finisher), 6-1, 6-0 to drop to the consolation bracket, where he lost 6-4, 6-0 to Sung Hun Cho of Laramie, the fourth-place finisher.

“Cody played two great matches,” Bieber said, and although the score doesn’t necessarily reflect it, he said the two losses were also close.

Boys No. 1 doubles team Marshall McArthur and Justin Lynn got their tournament off with a jolt by beating Laramie, the South’s regional champ, 7-5, 7-5.

“We started out great,” said Bieber.

McArthur and Lynn then lost 6-3, 6-3 to Kelly Walsh, the third-place finisher, in a very close match before rebounding by “dominating play” in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Torrington, Bieber said. The seniors then fell 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Cheyenne Central — “another really close match, probably within one point,” Bieber said.

Kalei Smith and Matt Brown took a 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-4 victory to get things started at No. 2 doubles. They were then beaten 6-3, 6-3 by Gillette, the runners up, and 6-3, 6-4 by Jackson.

“We’re proud of them,” said Bieber. “They were close in several matches. Just a matter of experience.”

At No. 3 doubles, Sterling Cozzens and Jeffrey Pool lost to Rock Springs in a nail-biter, 6-4, 7-6(0), then lost 7-5, 6-2 to Green River.

“They played really, really close,” Bieber said.

Girls No. 1 singles player BreaAnn Hollenbeck opened with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Abby Rich of Cheyenne East before falling 6-3, 6-4 to Cheyenne Central’s Ola Zarzycka, 6-3, 6-4. Zarzycka went on to finish third.

In the consolation bracket, Hollenbeck trumped Cassie Lew of Rock Springs 6-2, 6-1. She then was ousted 6-4, 6-2 by Raeghan Rudkin of Kelly Walsh.

Hollenbeck “had a really good tournament in a lot of ways,” said Bieber.

No. 2 singles player Cydney Barrus lost 6-1, 6-1 to Laramie’s Ann McIlroy, who went on to finish second.

Barrus rebounded with a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of Green River’s McKenzie Lucas. Despite battling in a narrow second set, Barrus lost to Cody’s Taylor Blough, 6-1, 7-5.

“We were proud of her,” said Bieber. “(Barrus) did better at state than she did at regionals, showed a big improvement.”

Haley Wichman and Laura Bright, Powell’s No. 1 doubles team, lost 6-3, 6-3 to Laramie before beating Green River 6-4, 6-3. Cody ended the partners’ season with a 6-4, 6-4 win.

“They played really well,” said Bieber of the inexperienced duo, adding, “They really improved this year a lot. ... They have a really good future in front of them.”

Seniors Marisa Sanders and Savannah Harker lost 6-4, 6-0 to Cheyenne Central to open play at No. 2 doubles. Cheyenne’s Eastern high school proved a better matchup, though, as Sanders and Harker won that match 6-1, 6-4.

“They played really well,” said Bieber.

Sanders and Harker were eliminated by Sheridan, 6-3, 6-2.

At No. 3 doubles, Josie Brinkerhoff and Rachel Anderson opened with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Torrington before losing 6-2, 6-0 to the eventual champions from Campbell County.

Jackson then eliminated the PHS duo in split sets, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.

“They played very well together and again, we had close matches,” Bieber said.

Looking forward to next season, the Panthers will return up to six of eight players, the Lady Panthers returning five of eight.

Bieber said the team is “really going to miss our seniors” — McArthur, Lynn, Hollenbeck, Sanders, and Harker.

“They’ve put a lot into our program and cared about other people other than themselves,” Bieber said.

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