Feeling as prepared as they can be, Laramie High School plays at the 2021 Wyoming High School State Tennis Championships in Gillette.

The tournament is Thursday through Saturday. Play begins at 8:30 a.m. each day. There will be four venues on Thursday and Friday, and two on Saturday, weather-permitting. The locations are Campbell County and Thunder Basin High Schools, the Campbell County Recreation Center, and Bicentennial Park in Gillette.

The Laramie Plainsmen finished second at last weekend’s regional tournament in Cheyenne. They scored 47 points, which was six behind Green River. Laramie had finalists in four of the five positions in their lineup. The No. 2 doubles team of Declan O’Connor and Kyler Russow won the regional crown with a straight-set victory over a team from Green River, 6-3 and 7-5. LHS had runner-up finishes at No. 2 singles, and No. 1 and No. 3 doubles.

The Lady Plainsmen took fourth place with 40 points. Cheyenne East won the regional. Laramie’s No. 2 doubles team of Abby Kersey and Cassy Wulff were regional champs. They beat a team from Cheyenne Central, 6-2 and 7-5. LHS also had third-place finishes at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles.

With those results in mind, Laramie High School tennis head coach Elizabeth Clower has some high hopes for this weekend, particularly for the boys’ team.

“I’m looking for a top-four easy, and actually, top-two. Kelly Walsh is going to be tough to beat. In girls, I felt like coming in fourth (last weekend) with a couple of teams that have never been before was actually a good achievement for them… They actually did really well, so I think we’re sitting pretty well to come in top four.”

A year ago, the girls placed fifth and the boys were tenth as a team at the state championships.

Kersey is the only returning state placer from last year. She won the title at No. 3 doubles with a different partner in 2020, who graduated.

Clower feels confident that her squads could bring home some individual state titles. She says the kids always seem to rise to the occasion.

“I do think we’ll sneak out some individual wins. It’s not going to be easy. We’ve got some tough draws in there, but it’s like I tell the players, you’re either going to play them at the beginning or the end. It doesn’t matter. The cream rises to the top. I think we will have a couple of individual state titles.”

The pressure at the state tournament can be difficult to deal with. That’s why Clower said we talk to the team about controlling only what you can control.

“It’s real easy to get to state, and you hear all the fans and the parents, and everybody cheering, and it can get a little overwhelming. We talk about focusing on the rectangle on the court and staying within who they are. They can control their attitude. They can control their feet and their effort. We talk about focusing on those things and getting into the rhythm of the match.”

Clower admits being spread out at four locations can be difficult, but they’ll do the best they can, but they don’t get to do a lot of coaching, anyway.

“Basically, you’re there for moral support, and cheering them on, and letting them know, you’re their biggest fan.”

Kelly Walsh enters the state championships as the favorite for both the boys’ and girls’ team titles.

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