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September 29, 2011 9:22 am

Tennis squads head to state

Written by CJ Baker

When most high school athletes gather for a state tournament, they’re sorted into different classes based on their cities’ population — 1A, 2A, 3A or 4A.

Not so in tennis, where everyone is lumped into one egalitarian fracas.

Powell High School will join the fray on Thursday, in a state tennis tournament that runs through Saturday in Gillette.

“It should be fun, it should be interesting,” said PHS head coach Ray Bieber.

For the boys, No. 2 doubles North region champs Marshall McArthur and Justin Lynn have been rewarded with a really good draw at state, Bieber said.

“We don’t have bad draws for the rest of our people, so I think it will be an exciting tournament,”  the coach said said.

Outside of No. 3 doubles team Matt Brown and Sam Prestwich, who will play the South region’s runner-up, the Panthers’ opening matches are against players who finished fourth or lower at the south regional tournament.

“The boys are seeded actually pretty well,” Bieber said.

The Lady Panthers weren’t so fortunate, with everyone except the No. 3 doubles team, Kim Moore and Marisa Sanders, facing competitors who finished third or better in the south region.

No. 1 singles player BreaAnn Hollenbeck and No. 2 singles player Emily Kath are each facing the regional winner from the south; Sanders and Moore play the fourth-place finisher.

“They have tough draws,” Bieber said of the girls. “But if you win early then it’s an easy route for you.”

Natrona County should be the favored girls team at state, Bieber said, with Sheridan right up there.

The coach is hoping the Lady Panthers finish in the middle of the pack or better.

“We want to place much higher than we did at regionals, at state,” he said.

The Cody boys, who had a player in every final at regionals, “have got to be the favorite team” after breaking some 14 years of Gillette dominance, Bieber said.

His Powell boys, meanwhile, “could be at the top of the pack somewhere.”

As he ran down his girls and boys lineups, Bieber noted each have generally held their own against the best teams in the state.

“We’re still improving,” he said Monday. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in the next two days, see what we can do.”

Brackets and schedules are available at www.whsaa.org.

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