Gillette athletes make some racket at state tennis tournament

CCHS tennis player Tully Allison returns a shot during No. 1 doubles play at the 4A state tournament. (Photo courtesy of Kellie Jo Allison Photography)

The Campbell County and Thunder Basin high school tennis teams brought the 2021 season to close on their home courts over the weekend. Dozens of teams and hundreds of athletes were in Gillette battling for the top prizes in the sport at the 4A state championship tournament.
After three days of action-packed tennis, this year’s champions were decided. There was no gold to be found among local athletes, but there were many solid performances which were the end of some careers and confidence boosters for others looking ahead to next year.

CCHS saw both of its teams finish in the top 10 with several athletes who chalked up victories. Thunder Basin’s young teams finished outside the top 10 but gained valuable experience for next season’s promising improvements.

TBHS’ Hayden Chambers protects the backline during doubles action at state. (Photo courtesy of Kellie Jo Allison Photography)

The Camels

The CCHS girls had the best state finish among all Gillette teams. The squad finished seventh overall with 18 points. Kelly Walsh owned the tournament and won both boys and girls team state titles.

Leading the way for the Camels were the standout singles players Alexa Richert and Abi Neary. The duo combined for six match wins and both advanced to the consolation championship round.

Richert made quick work of Rock Springs in the first round of No. 1 singles. She faced a tougher challenger in the second round where she fought her way to a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Gabrielle Heiser of Green River.

The toughest match at state for Richert was in the semifinals where she fell 6-0, 6-0 to eventual state champion Finley Klinger of Kelly Walsh. The CCHS standout bounced back and beat her foe from Sheridan 6-2, 6-1 to reach the consolation finals where she was edged by Sheridan.

Alexa Richert came up big for the Camels as she netted three match wins at state in No. 1 singles play. (Photo courtesy of Kellie Jo Allison Photography)

Neary took the same exact path as her teammate in the No. 2 singles bracket and started state with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Buena Clark of Rawlins. That led to her most exciting match of the weekend as she came out victorious in a 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 showdown against Mia Wallhead of Laramie.

After her first loss at state against Green River, Neary got back on track with a spectacular 6-3, 7-5 win over Grace Osterland of Cheyenne Central. The win put her in the consolation finals where she was edged by Cody.

The No. 1 doubles team of Mari Bouzis and Payton Whitt chalked up two victories at state. The tandem beat Cheyenne South in a thrilling 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 showdown. After their first defeat, they rallied in the third round with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Cheyenne Central.

Mari Bouzis returns fire from back of the court during the 4A state tournament for Campbell County. (Photo courtesy of Kellie Jo Allison Photography)

The twosome of Lexi Alexander and Samantha Torres also won two state matches in No. 3 doubles. After a first-round setback, the Camels stormed right back in top form with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Torrington and a long and intense victory over Green River 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

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The No. 2 doubles team of Maddie Edwards and Bayley Gray also served up a state win. After a hard-fought 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1 loss in the first round, the duo met the challenge in the second round with an impressive 6-0, 6-0 shutout against Rock Springs.

The CCHS boys were 10th overall at state. The team was also led by a couple of two-win performances from it’s stars.

No. 1 singles player Jason Fink went 2-2 for the tournament. He served up a big win over Torrington 7-6 (8-6), 7-5. After his first defeat, he rebounded with a marathon victory over Cody 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 7-5 for his second state win.

Kody Kline served up his lone victory in the second round with a 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 decision over Torrington in a tough No. 1 singles bracket.

The most successful run for the boys came in No. 3 doubles where Hayden Lemm and EJ Hallcroft were solid. Their hard work was evident from start as they opened the tournament with a lengthy 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win over Rock Springs.

That gave the duo the momentum to keep on rolling. Lemm and Hallcroft followed that up with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Kelly Walsh to reach the semifinals.

The Camels pursuit of a title was nipped in another close showdown, this time a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) setback against Laramie.

The No. 1 doubles team of Tully Allison and Marcus Sarvey were also two-match winners at state. The talented duo beat Rock Springs 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. The twosome rallied from their first loss after that and returned to the court where they beat Torrington 6-2, 6-1.

The No. 2 doubles team of Kyle Barton and Rylan Robertson didn’t leave state without a win. They served up their win in a 6-1, 6-4 decision over Cheyenne East.

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CCHS’ Rylan Robertson shows his quickness at the net during No. 2 doubles action at state. (Photo courtesy of Kellie Jo Allison Photography)

The Bolts

It was a learning experience for the young talents at TBHS which will pave the way for bigger things in seasons to come. The girls’ squad was 11th overall and the boys netted 12th.

The Bolts top performers were also on the girls’ side of things where the team collected six match wins, while the boys served up three.

Leading the way for Thunder Basin was the No. 3 doubles team of Katie Bruse and Tierra Tachick. They handily beat Torrington 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and then came out on top of the longest match of the day with an exciting 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5 victory over Cheyenne East to reach the championship semifinals. Bruse and Tachick had their run to the title stopped by eventual state champion Kelly Walsh.

The No. 2 doubles team of Brooke Kendrick and Brianna Ketchum also aced a pair of state wins. The tandem handily beat Rock Springs 6-1, 6-1 in the first round. They came up short in the second round but fought back from that to beat Cody in hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 come-from-behind victory.

The No. 1 doubles duo of Hallie Angelos and Maggie Bruse inked their win of the tournament in a 6-0, 6-2 win over Rock Springs.

In girls’ singles, No. 1 Sarah Rasse netted a thrilling 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) win over Rock Springs, while Ali Morgan battled through two close matches.

For the TBHS boys, No. 1 singles player Luke Lass picked up one of his teams two wins. After a first round setback, he bounced back to win a 6-3, 6-1 win over Cheyenne East.

Also serving up a win was the No. 3 doubles team of Austin Youngs and Payton Marty. After falling to Green River in the opening round, the Bolts battled back with a huge 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Cheyenne South.

No. 2 singles player Josh Klaassen also found his rhythm after a first-round setback. He returned to top form with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Cheyenne East.

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Also competing at state were Hayden Chambers and Tate Moore in No. 1 doubles, and Owen Gursuch and Connor Hieb at No. 2 doubles.

Girls team standings

  1. Kelly Walsh, 69
  2. Natrona County, 29
  3. Cheyenne Central, 26
  4. Cheyenne East, 23
  5. Green River, 20.5
  6. Laramie, 19.5
  7. Campbell County, 18
  8. Sheridan, 15
  9. Jackson, 14
  10. Cody, 13.5
  11. Thunder Basin, 6
  12. Powell, 4
  13. Torrington, 1
  14. Rock Springs, .5
  15. Cheyenne South, 0
  16. Rawlins, 0

Boys team standings

  1. Kelly Walsh, 58
  2. Jackson, 40
  3. Laramie, 31
  4. Cheyenne South, 29
  5. Sheridan, 20
  6. Green River, 19
  7. Cheyenne Central, 17
  8. Cody, 15
  9. Powell, 13.5
  10. Campbell County, 8
  11. Torrington, 3
  12. Thunder Basin, 2.5
  13. Natrona County, 2
  14. Rawlins, 1.5
  15. Rock Springs, .5
  16. Cheyenne East, 0