Panthers, Lady Panthers open tennis season

Strong showing against Green River, Rock Springs

Posted 8/22/19

The Powell High School tennis teams opened the 2019 season this week, with home matches against non-conference foes Green River on Monday and Rock Springs on Tuesday.

The Panther boys rolled in …

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Panthers, Lady Panthers open tennis season

Strong showing against Green River, Rock Springs


The Powell High School tennis teams opened the 2019 season this week, with home matches against non-conference foes Green River on Monday and Rock Springs on Tuesday.

The Panther boys rolled in their first action of the season, beating Green River 4-1 and sweeping Rock Springs 5-0.

On the girls’ side, the Lady Panthers fell 4-1 in the season opener against Green River Monday, but rebounded nicely Tuesday against Rock Springs, winning 4-1.

PHS head coach Joe Asay, now in his fourth season at the helm of both programs, said it’s always fun to kick off the new season against the teams from down south. Enough Green River players made the trip that Asay was able to get some of his younger players some varsity experience, playing alternate varsity matches along with the requisite JV matches.

“We ended up with a pretty tough start, really, on both sides with [playing against] the Green River kids,” he said. “The girls had a tough go with just the one win in the three doubles spot. But we had a really good day against Rock Springs.”


Panthers 4, Green River 1

Panther senior Jesse Brown made short work of Green River’s Caeden Grubb in the No. 1 singles spot, winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. Fellow senior Dylan Preator, the defending state champion in No. 2 singles, also got off to a fast start, defeating Connor Friel in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.

“I was excited to see Jesse Brown geting out there and competing, see how things are coming together for his final season as a Panther tennis player,” Asay said. “He’s a strong player, so he’s just not going to be pushed in most cases. He’s going to dictate that play every time.”

The Panthers have a new combination at No.1 doubles this season, with senior Aiden Jacobsen and sophomore Ethan Bartholomew making their season debut against Green River’s Jon Leininger and Elliott Potter. The pair dropped the first set 4-6, but battled back to win the next two, 6-1, 6-3.

“Aiden [Jacobsen]’s gritty, and he was put in there with a sophomore [Bartholomew], who’s pretty new to the game,” Asay said. “Ethan has really come along tremendously, he was out hitting all summer. I’ve seen just a tremendous amount of improvement from spring into summer. Those guys battled and got it done in three sets.”

Another new matchup for the Panthers this season is the pairing of seniors Grant Dillivan and Jay Cox at the No. 2 doubles spot. The two got off to a quick start against Camden Nelson and Domenick Kunkle, winning the first set 7-5, before dropping the next two 6-1, 6-1 to take the loss.

After running into some difficulties in the last two sets, “they’ll work through those things,” Asay said, “but they still played good tennis.”

At the No. 3 doubles spot, the sophomore pairing of Logan Brown and Aiden Chandler downed Green River’s Braxton Cordova and Zach Friel 6-4, 6-2.


Green River 4, Lady Panthers 1

The graduation of Elise North and Sierra Sanders off of last year’s squad left the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots up for grabs this season, and Asay said the competition has been fierce for the two top positions.

“... we have a lot of returners,” he said. “Those girls have stepped in well in a new role.”

In her first appearance at No. 1 singles, PHS senior Sloane Asay struggled against Green River’s Gabrielle Heiser, losing in straight sets 6-0, 6-1. Junior Ashley Dunkerley also fell in straight sets at the No. 2 singles spot, 6-0, 6-3.

“Sloane didn’t get a win, but had some good match experience,” coach Asay said. “Ashley also came up a little short, but it will be fun to see what she does this season. She’s a fighter, a scrappy little player. We’ll see how it all sorts out in those top two spots.”

In No. 1 doubles, the pairing of senior Hailee Paul and junior Sophe Morrow came up short in a hard-fought 7-6, 6-3 loss to Green River’s Morgan Atkins and Roryann Ratliff.

“Those two girls [Paul and Morrow] really matched up well, they played some good tennis,” Asay said. “Good return shots off the serve, handling the net well. A lot of good things in that match.”

The first-time pairing of juniors Sami Cole and Sydnee Thompson at No. 2 doubles also lost in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, though Asay said he took a lot of positives from the match.

“Sydnee is a first-time varsity player, and she’s certainly stepping into the role well,” he said. “Sami Cole surprised me last year with her great play at varsity for the first time, so it’s fun to see those two girls just going after it.”

The Lady Panthers’ lone win came in the No. 3 doubles spot, with junior Whitney Hull and sophomore Kaili Wisniewski winning a three-set thriller over Shelbee McFadden and Kaylee Hymas 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-3.

“It was a good battle,” coach Asay said. “It was the last match of the day, so everyone was there cheering them on. It was a good win for those girls.”


Lady Panthers 4, Rock Springs 1

After Monday’s tough loss to Green River, the Lady Panthers bounced back against Rock Springs, downing the Lady Tigers 4-1.

“It was fun to see our kids really get out there and battle,” coach Asay said.

Sloane Asay was the lone loss for the Lady Panthers at No. 1 singles. falling to Rachel Shuler in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

“Sloane played well, just came up short,” coach Asay said. “We’re going to keep working on some things for her and see if we can’t get her on the winning end of things.”

The Lady Panthers swept the next four matches, led by a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 2 singles from Dunkerley.

In No. 1 doubles, Paul and Morrow downed Rock Springs’ Makailey Johnson and Makalie Mignery. Cole and Thompson picked up their first win of the season in straight sets over Kameron Wilson and Allyson Turner.

Hull and Wisniewski moved to 2-0 on the season at No. 3 doubles, beating Bailee Pitt and Brissa Proa 6-3, 6-0.

“It was a good, strong win for the girls, and the best thing for me is to be able to see them go out and dictate play,” Asay said. “Those were a bunch of good wins.”


Panthers 5, Rock Springs 0

It was a clean sweep for the Panthers against Rock Springs, with the Tigers winning just eight games for the entire match.

Brown and Preator picked up where they left off Monday in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots, earning straight-set 6-0, 6-0 wins.

“It was bagel-bagel for Jesse [Brown], bagel-bagel for Dylan [Preator],” Asay said. “They both played really, really well.”

Jacobsen and Bartholomew were also perfect at No. 1 doubles, dropping Bradyn Conover and Kaeden Hanson 6-0, 6-0.

At No. 2 doubles, Dillivan and Cox appeared poised to continue the trend, winning the first set 6-0. But the pair soon found themselves in a battle, losing 6-3 in the second set before rebounding to win the third 6-2.

“They [Dillivan and Cox] had to work for theirs a little bit,” Asay said. “But they came back very strong in that third set and executed well.”

Brown and Chandler rounded out the sweep for the Panthers at No. 3 singles, beating Zack Smith and Angel Maldanado 6-0, 6-0.

The PHS tennis teams are on the road for a full slate of games Friday, taking on Thunder Basin and Campbell County in Gillette.

“It will be a long day, for sure,” Asay said. “We’re right back at it, going full speed.”