Thunder Basin and Campbell County high school tennis teams hosted the two high schools from Casper on Thursday, Natrona County and Kelly Walsh, swapping matches with the teams in a full day of tennis.
Thunder Basin High School
The Bolts won all of their matches against Natrona in straight sets. At the end of the day, the boys finished 8-2 and the girls 7-3.
Jack Voigt, the team’s No.1 singles player, won the first match 6-1, 6-0 at Thunder Basin’s tennis courts. He had to win quickly, because he had a choir concert less than 30 minutes after the match and ran off to perform one of his other talents.
“I just played my game, just tried to keep everything in bounds and came out with a win,” Voigt said.
He beat Buck Harris of Kelly Walsh in his first match of the day.
The No. 1 doubles pairing of Joel Klaassen and Mason Miller beat both of their opponents in straight sets as well. Each sported red “Make America Great Again” hats to add to their white Bolts uniforms.
“We just started today, but now we’re going for it,” Miller said, having gone undefeated since wearing the hats. “My dad owns a construction company, so Trump’s been helping him out.”
For the girls, who played at the Campbell County School District Field House the whole day, Kinsley Larson defeated Keating Chase of Natrona at No. 1 singles and lost to her Kelly Walsh opponent, Finley Klinger.
Klinger won both of her matches, against Larson and Campbell County’s Alli Hays, in straight sets.
In girls No. 1 doubles, Alyson Borchers and Kim Kern beat Brooklyn Colling and Taylin Smith of Natrona, giving up only lost two games. Borchers and Kern, who played with each other last year as well.
Next on the schedule for Thunder Basin at 4 p.m. Friday is cross-town rival Campbell County. The players and coaches described playing each other as a friendly rivalry that they enjoy because they are so familiar with each other and have trained in the offseason together.
Kern even helped coach one of the Camels’ No. 1 doubles players, freshman Abi Neary, at the Field House, she said.
“It’ll be a fun match for sure, playing friends. It just always is,” Kern said. “I coached her and her sister for a little bit. It was just fun, and now I’m like, ‘Ah, I have to play her.’”
The state tournament, which will be held at many tennis courts in Gillette, is just two weekends away.
TBHS coach Paul Stevens said the doubles players need to be more confident and aggressive, and the singles players need to study their opponents and be smart as the stakes get higher.
“They need to know they’re going to have tough matches,” Stevens said. “And they need to be mentally tough so that they can come out on the right end of those.”
Campbell County High School
The Camels were led by the boys, who won eight of their 10 matches.
The girls were 3-2 against Natrona, but couldn’t get any victories against Kelly Walsh.
“Some of our girls teams are continuing to make the same mistakes over and over, but some of that is because of the experience level that they have,” Camels coach Mark Miessler said. “I definitely think that we came out and we hit the ball a little bit, we just got a lot to work on.”
The No. 1 boys doubles team of Jefferson Neary and Austin Robertson took a victory over Natrona in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Then they played the Trojans’ doubles and narrowly won the first set (7-6) before coming back for the second and winning 6-0.
Robertson and Neary are defending No. 2 doubles Class 4A state champions and it took a little adjusting to making the leap to No.1 doubles this season as juniors.
“Bigger serves,” Neary said about the difference. “We’ve learned that we have to hit with strokes. Last year, we could kind of just dink it back.”
Ali Hays, the Camel girls’ No.1 singles player and defending state champion, lost to Kelly Walsh’s Finley Klinger in straight sets after winning her first match without dropping a game.
Klinger had a different demeanor than Hays on the court. When Klinger scored she would fist pump almost every time, call out the score before a serve and let out a “Yes!” when making a big play.
But Hays looked calm and collected even when things weren’t going her way in the match.
“I’m calm. I don’t cry after matches if I lose. I’m always respectful of my (opponent),” Hays said. “I always like to go onto the court with the same attitude that I come off with, no matter win or lose.”
Hays lost to Klinger in the regular season last year by the same score (6-0, 6-2), she said. But Hays came back in the state semifinals and won in three sets on her way to the state title.
Senior Miles Venya, the boys No.1 singles player, took victories in both of his matches.
The girls No. 1 doubles team of junior Livia Castellanos and freshman Abi Neary beat the Mustangs’ Brooklynn Colling and Taylin Smith in straight sets (6-0, 6-4) before dropping a match to the Trojans in straight sets.
Kelly Walsh took second at state as a team last season.
“They could return almost all of the serves,” Neary said.
“Really good serves. Consistent. They kept the ball in the court, we didn’t,” Castellanos said.
The Camels will play Thunder Basin at 4 p.m. Friday at CCHS and then they’ll play at 10 a.m. Saturday in Sheridan. They are the final matches before the regional tournament starts Sept. 20.