As a team, the Panthers finished in fourth place among the eight squads with 25 points, trailing Cody (59), Gillette (53) and Kelly Walsh (42). The Lady Panthers, with six points, finished seventh. The Natrona County girls won with 60 points, followed by Sheridan (52) and Cody (32).
Lynn and McArthur played “really well,” and “really smart,” to take three straight matches and region’s title, said head coach Ray Bieber.
Cody’s Dan Dunn and Ethan Smith got the better of McArthur and Lynn in the first set of the championship match, 6-2, but the PHS duo came back to take the second set, 6-4. In the decisive third set, Lynn and McArthur “did exactly what it took to win,” Bieber said, winning their serves and breaking the Cody team’s serve at the end to claim a 7-5 victory.
“They’re learning how to play together and doing well,” Bieber said. “We’re excited about their chances at state, too.”
Boys No.1 singles player Eric Curtis took fourth in what was “a really nice tournament” for him, Bieber said. Curtis won two matches, but had two narrow losses to Kelly Walsh’s Adam Katz. The coach hopes for a rematch.
“It’d be cool if he (Curtis) saw him (Katz) another time, I think, because he’s got him figured out a little bit and could get him next time,” Bieber said.
The other PHS tennis players will face less favorable seeding at the state tournament this weekend after not placing at regionals. The boys and girls’ losses came almost exclusively to the top four finishers in each playing slot.
“We’re not that far out from placing pretty well, so we’re looking forward to everybody winning at least one match at state,” Bieber said of the girls. The boys, he said, could be at the top of the pack at state.
Curtis lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to Kelly Walsh’s Katz, stomped Zack Zenk of Riverton, 6-0, 6-1, came back to beat Sheridan’s Reed Ritterbusch, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, then lost to Katz again in the consolation match, 6-3, 7-6.
At No. 2 singles, Shohei Sato lost 6-0, 6-0 to eventual champion Riley Swanson of Campbell County, then 6-3, 6-2 to third place finisher Brady Griffin of Kelly Walsh.
Bieber said Sato played the two competitors tough.
“He just needs to come through and win (at state). That would be big for us if he could do that,” Bieber said.
At No. 1 doubles, Ashton Soloai and Todd Lewis lost 6-2, 6-0 to Sheridan, then beat Natrona County 7-5, 6-7, 6-4. They then lost to third-place finisher Kelly Walsh, 6-4, 6-2.
“They could play against anybody on a given day,” Bieber said, saying the pair just needs to cut down on outs and double faults.
McArthur and Lynn swept to victory by beating Riverton 6-2, 6-2, Kelly Walsh, 6-2, 6-4 and finally, notched a comeback win over Cody: 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
At No. 3 doubles, Matt Brown and Sam Prestwich dropped their opening match 6-1, 7-5 to winner Kelly Walsh. In the consolation bracket, they beat Riverton 6-1, 6-3 before losing 6-3, 6-4 to Jackson.
“They just need to be consistent,” Bieber said.
On the girls side, No. 1 singles player BreaAnn Hollenbeck lost 6-2, 6-4 to eventual winner Noelle Golinvaux of Sheridan. Hollenbeck rebounded to beat Riverton’s Andrea Souza 6-4, 6-2, but came up short against Jackson’s Nina Berlin, 6-1, 6-4.
“BreaAnn battled everybody she played,” the coach said.
At No. 2 singles, Emily Kath opened with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Cody’s Morgan Baker — the third place finisher — and was eliminated by Kelly Walsh’s Sally Murray, 6-4, 6-1.
“If she (Kath) hits the ball in, she could be right in there, too,” Bieber said.
In their first match, Lacey Eckerdt and Leya Goette had a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Natrona County’s No. 1 doubles team, who would go to take second. Eckerdt and Goette then drew the eventual third-place finisher, Gillette, and fell 6-4, 6-1.
Bieber said they continually hang in there against the best teams in the state.
At No. 2 doubles, Sheridan Roling and Cydney Barrus lost to Cody, the second place finisher, in round one. They then lost in split sets to Gillette, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3. Bieber said the pair are continuing to improve.
Kim Moore and Marisa Sanders lost to Sheridan, 7-6, 6-2, then pummeled Riverton, 6-0, 6-0. Third-place finisher Kelly Walsh ended their run with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
“They could be right in there, too,” Bieber said.
The state tournament begins Thursday in Gillette, and runs through Saturday. Tournament information and brackets are online at www.whsaa.org.