SHERIDAN — Things went as planned for players defending state titles at the first day of 4A state tennis Monday in Gillette.
No. 1 singles players Reed Ritterbusch and Julia Fenn set themselves into semifinals matches Tuesday.
Head coach Bob Faurot said Ritterbusch was able to work on some strokes and serves, helping him get ready for what they anticipate to be the showdown on Wednesday with Dylan Bainer of Laramie in the final.
Ritterbusch’s only loss this season came in Laramie against Bainer.
“Reed had a pretty good day building up confidence,” Faurot said. “He still has to get past Cody’s Jodan Steckler, but it was a good day.”
For No. 1 girls singles player Julia Fenn, it was also a good day as she started by defending her own 4A state title.
“She hasn’t lost a game yet here and plays Gillette tomorrow, which was probably her closest match all season,” Faurot said.
Fenn gets Gillette’s Madison Hinshaw in Tuesday’s semifinals.
“We had her working on different things, just making sure we could hit them, it’s a little faster surface this year,” Faurot said.
Laramie’s Lucia Cho is the favorite on the other side of the bracket at No. 1 doubles, rolling through her matches Monday, and was set to play Regan Hendricks of Natrona in the other semifinal today.
While Faurot said the No. 1 singles matches went the way they thought they would, he was happily surprised with Adam Berry at No. 2 doubles. Berry reached the semifinals today with wins over Cheyenne South’s Mark Broyles, 6-1, 6-3, then Cole Brothwell, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
“He won both of his matches fairly easily, it was a big thing for him to do, winning games without having his best strokes and best points,” Faurot said, adding that Berry’s Tuesday semifinal against Hun Cho of Laramie won’t be easy, but hoped that they could get through.
A strong field at No. 1 doubles bit the talented Broncs Logan Garstad and Turner Martini in the second round as they fell to Drummond/Bainer of Laramie, 6-1, 6-3.
“Cody, Laramie, Jackson and Sheridan all have good doubles teams,” Faurot said. “We didn’t have our best today, but hopefully we’ll play three and win three (today).”
The No. 1 doubles team for the Broncs begins the day against Kelly Walsh and needs the three match wins for a berth in the third-place game Wednesday. Martini and Garstad won their first match Monday over Torrington 6-0, 6-0.
No. 2 doubles team, Lachlan Brennan and Tristan Gamble, lost to Green River in three sets, taking the first but dropping the final two after a flat second set. After taking a 4-2 lead in the final set, they fell 6-4.
“The other team started making shots and we started trying a little too hard,” Faurot said.
Gamble and Brennan won 6-1, 6-2 over Torrington in their opening round match, before dropping the 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 match to Green River. They were set to open with a Natrona team they’ve beaten already this year, in the loser-out game today.
For No. 3 doubles, Robert Meixsell and Sam Sanders, the team also won their first match but fell in the quarterfinals. Faurot said they ran into Laramie, the strongest team in the state this year, several times Monday. They’ll play a team from Cheyenne East today in the consolation bracket.
“But, if you want to win it all, you’ve got to beat the best team sometime,” he said.
Faurot added that he hoped that things fell in a way that pushed the Broncs up higher in the top four or five team scores as the tournament wraps up Wednesday, and that it would help to get someone to finish third.
For the girls, it was a tougher day.
Katelynn Brooks fell in the second round to Green River’s Shayla Strauss at No. 2 singles. Faurot said that he believed Brooks to have the talent to win the match, but just not the experience in her first year of varsity tennis.
“I feel like she had the game to beat her, if it had been the regular season where we could talk to players on changeovers it might have been different, but we couldn’t coach in between, so that was our downfall,” Faurot said. “The Green River girl really charged the net and chipped every return, and that threw us.”
Brooks will play Torrington’s Xiyun Hessler today in a loser-out game, working for third place.
At No. 1 doubles, Gina Romanjenko and Annalee Bailey, won 7-5, 6-2 over Green River and then ran into No. 1 seed Natrona. They play Kelly Walsh Tuesday. No. 2 doubles, Hannah Maixner and Samantha Hamilton, won their first game against East but lost to Central and will play Green River Tuesday.
“They felt they played a good match, they played to the best of their ability. Central is a strong team,” Faurot explained.
The No. 3 doubles team, Belen Espada-Vioque and Jillian Stalker, lost both games and were eliminated Monday. They fell in three sets to Central, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, in a close match, but came back in the consolation round and played Green River tough, going up 5-2 before the game went to tie breaker and Sheridan lost 10-8. They dropped the final set 6-1.
Faurot said it took quite the effort to get the courts ready after 18 inches of snow pounded Gillette Friday. The state tournament was originally set for Thursday and Friday but was pushed back early last week in anticipation of the weather.
After the Gillette community got the field ready for the Energy Bowl Saturday, they didn’t get to start on tennis courts until Sunday, using wheelbarrows and shovels to clear the two sites.
4A state tennis tournament: Into the semis Tuesday
No. 1 singles Reed Ritterbusch def. Brennan Hansen RAWLINS 6-1, 6-2; Quarterfinals: Ritterbusch def. Tyler Ring TORRINGTON 6-1, 6-2; Semifinals: Ritterbusch vs. Jordan Steckler CODY (Tuesday) No. 1 singles Julia Fenn def. Reegan Ford RAWLINS 6-0, 6-0; Quarterfinals: Fenn def. Abby Rich EAST 6-0, 6-0
Semifinals: Fenn vs. Madison Hinshaw GILLETTE (Tuesday)
No. 2 singles Adam Berry def. Broyles SOUTH; quarters, Berry def. Brothwell TORRINGTON; Semis Tuesday: Berry vs. Cho LARAMIE