PHS tennis teams struggle against Sheridan

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Dylan Preator and Sierra Sanders continued to impress in the No. 2 singles spots for the Powell High School tennis teams on Saturday, both coming away with wins against their visiting Sheridan opponents.

It was a rougher go for the rest of the teams, however, as the Broncs beat the Panthers 4-1 and the Lady Broncs outlasted the Lady Panthers 3-2.

“They’ve got some pretty talented kids over there,” PHS head coach Joe Asay said of Sheridan. “They definitely have a lot of experience.”

Sheridan 4, Panthers 1

Panthers’ No. 1 singles player Jesse Brown knew going into Saturday’s match that he’d have his hands full with Sheridan’s Ethan Kutz.

Like Brown, Kutz has made short work of all but one of his opponents this season, with both players coming up short against Jackson’s Nate Fairbanks. Against Brown, Kutz found a game opponent but came away with a 6-3, 6-2 win.

“He [Kutz] is definitely one of the better singles players in the state,” Asay said. “I saw some things there that would suggest that he’s beatable. But he’s been competitive and worked pretty hard against Jesse when they were both freshmen. He’ll be one of the tougher kids moving forward, to be sure.”

Against Sheridan’s Reed Rabon in the No. 2 singles spot, Preator got off to a rough start, dropping the first set 6-3. But Preator was able to regroup in fine fashion, taking the next two sets 6-3, 6-1 for the win.

“Dylan [Preator] dropped the first set against a kid that wasn’t going to blow him off the court,” Asay said. “But even as Dylan looked to those opportunities to exert a little bit of power there, the kid would put his racket on it and put it back in play. He [Preator] was getting a little frustrated, I think. But he dialed things in and settled down a bit, finished things off strong.”

It was a clean sweep for Sheridan in the doubles matches, beginning with with Powell’s Aidan Jacobsen and Grant Dillivan falling to Sheridan’s Kellen Mentock and Logan Jensen 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 1 spot.

“[Jacobsen and Dillivan] ran up against some kids that play smart, competitive doubles tennis,” Asay said. “They need to be bringing their best game. Aiden Jacobsen is dealing with a little bit of a hand/wrist issue, so he’s not striking the ball as well as he usually does. It’s good for them [Jacobsen and Dillivan] to have these matches so they know what to expect when they wander off to regions here in a couple of weeks.”

Sheridan’s Trenton Lewallen and Kevin Woodrow defeated the first-time pairing of Aidan Hunt and Jay Cox 6-3, 6-0 in No. 2 doubles, while the Panthers’ Logan Brown and Aiden Chandler fell to Tomy Phillips and Jarett Hoy 6-1, 6-0 at the No. 3 spot.

Of the teaming of Hunt and Cox, Asay said it was part of the process of trying to get the right kids together.

“They’re all just eager to get out there and play, so I liked the idea of playing a couple of the older boys up in that two spot,” he said. “Aidan Hunt is pretty steady at the two, so I’ve been working through a couple of different partners for him. and it’s kind of fun to give the freshmen boys [Brown and Chandler] a chance to play together.”

Sheridan 3, Lady Panthers 2

Asay said this season has been a learning experience for Elise North in the No. 1 singles spot. The senior came into the year with no varsity experience and suddenly finds herself taking on some of the best players in the state. Saturday was no exception, as North matched up against Sheridan’s Julia Kutz — sister of boys’ No.1 singles player Ethan — and lost in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0.

“Elise [North] continues to step up pretty well, and is always a pleasure to be around. She’s always eager to try to improve and get better,” Asay said. “Julia [Kutz] is just a sophomore, but already in her second year of playing in that No. 1 spot. That’s one of those tough matches, and will be a tough match going down the road.”

Sierra Sanders continues to be a consistent force for the Lady Panthers at No. 2 singles, rolling through Sheridan’s Aspen Malkuch in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

“When it’s a match she should win, Sierra’s getting out there and winning them,” Asay said. “Looking forward to her match ... against Cody, where she’ll have another chance to go against last year’s state champ in the two spot, Teegan Thompson.”

Thompson won the first meeting between the pair, 6-2, 6-0.

In No. 1 doubles, Sheridan’s Hannah Jost and Ella Laird defeated Powell’s Shayla Shoopman and Sloane Asay 6-1, 6-2, while the No. 2 doubles team of Ashley Dunkerley and Sophe Morrow fell to the Lady Broncs’ Tori Pearce and Steph Gonda in three sets, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.

“Sophe [Morrow] and Ashley [Dunkerley] were right there,” coach Asay said of the No. 2 doubles match. “They played a great second set to get it to a tiebreaker and push it to a third set. They were right there all along, and unfortunately it didn’t happen. But it’s fun to see them continue to get better and play competitively.”

Hailee Paul and Sami Cole in the No. 3 doubles spot made easy work of Sheridan’s Megan Hoffman and Sam Dillon 6-0, 6-1, giving the Lady Panthers their second win of the match.

“I think we got that pretty dialed in in the No. 3 doubles spot,” coach Asay said. “It’s the second year for Hailee Paul playing there, and she brings some experience and athleticism, which is fun. A newcomer who’s hitting the ball really well is Sami Cole, and those guys got out there and had a great straight-set win.”

The PHS tennis teams travel to Cody today (Thursday) for a conference dual against the Broncs and Fillies.

“It’s kind of fun to have one of our conference foes so close by, so we get a couple of chances to see the Cody kids,” coach Asay said. The Park County rivals’ first match-up was a non-conference event, but this week’s contest will help determine placing for the Sept. 14-15 North Regional Tournament.

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