Panther tennis had its last two matches before the regional tournament late last week, and while the results weren’t quite there in the win column, there certainly were reasons.
“This isn’t a good week, or time of the week, with Homecoming being very much a distraction for the kids,” head coach Joe Asay said. “And these are some really strong and experienced programs we’re facing.”
Those two programs, Sheridan and Gillette, showed that ability on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The visiting Broncs swung their way to 4-1 wins against both the Powell boys and girls.
The lone Panther boys win came at No. 2 singles from freshman Jesse Brown, who was looking for a little redemption after taking his first loss of the season a few days earlier at Cody.
Facing Ethan Kutz, Brown took a 6-3, first-set win, but Kutz evened it up with a 6-4 win in the second set.
Brown would then repeat the score of the first set, 6-3, to get the victory.
At No. 1 singles, Rhett Pimentel won three games in his first set loss to Quinton Suska, but couldn’t get into the win column in the second set.
Both the No. 1 doubles (James Sheets and Aaron Jacobsen) and No. 2 doubles (Wade Musso and Nathaniel Whitham) picked up some game wins, but lost in straight sets.
The No. 3 doubles team of Nate Brown and Dylan Preator proved a very tough out early, battling to a 6-7, first-set loss, before the Sheridan duo made things a little easier in the second set, winning 6-2.
On the girls side, the Lady Panthers’ win came at No. 1 singles, where it was a match up of Hattie and Maddie, Powell’s Hattie Pimentel and Sheridan’s Maddie Garneau.
But the similar sound of their first names didn’t reflect much resemblance in their games as Pimentel cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Lauren Asher at No. 2 singles and cousins Sierra and Nicole Sanders, at No. 2 doubles, lost in straight sets, while the other two doubles teams stretched their contests to three sets.
The No. 1 doubles team of Jen Bonanader and Kaylee Meyer got a 6-4 win in their first set, but could only muster four more game wins in the next two, falling 1-6 and 3-6.
No. 3 doubles saw Shayla Shoopman and Sloane Asay in an epic back-and-forth, going to tie-breakers in each of the first two sets and splitting 7-6 and 6-7 scores. The Lady Broncs kicked it up a notch in the third set, however, getting a 6-2 win.
In Saturday morning’s contest against the visiting Gillette Camels, the Lady Panthers made it interesting in a 2-3 loss.
Both of Powell’s singles players picked up wins in straight sets, with Pimentel going 6-4, 6-4 over Kayla Sankovich and Asher winning 6-3, 6-2 over Alli Hays.
But none of the Panther doubles teams could come away with a win, tilting the match in Gillette’s favor.
The boys didn’t fare well against their Camel foes, with straight-set losses in all but one match.
Though Jesse Brown took it to three sets at No. 2 singles against Garrett Seamans, he ended up with his second loss of the season, and week, 6-2, 4-6, 5-7.
Coach Asay has said the tough regular season competition is key to preparing for the postseason and those final two opponents certainly fit the mold. They could well have the Panthers prepped for the North Regional Tournament this Friday and Saturday in Cody.