Without dropping a set last weekend at the state championship, Laramie junior Declan O’Connor became a state singles champion.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, O’Connor defeated Hayden Clark from Jackson, 6-1 and 6-4, to win the state title in boys’ No. 2 singles.

O’Connor said he was motivated by what happened the week before at the South Regional Tournament in Rock Springs. He talked with KOWB’s David Settle about winning his state championship on Monday.

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Laramie head coach Elizabeth Clower was surprised Declan won all his matches in straight sets, but not surprised he came home with a title.

“He’s worked very, very hard. From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, his coachability (improved). His willingness to receive instruction and use that instruction in the match (was great). That makes you a little vulnerable to go out and do something you haven’t been doing. He was just determined that he could do this and was gonna do it, and he did. He played very, very well.”

O’Connor helped the Plainsmen bring home a second-place trophy from state tennis. Laramie scored 41 points, which was eight behind state champion Jackson.

The No. 3 doubles tandem of Ryan Dennis and Matthew Pikal took second. MaCoy Callihan and Gage Hepworth finished in third place at No. 2 doubles. Paulo Mellizo was fourth at No. 1 singles.

Coach Clower called it a great weekend for the boys’ squad from LHS.

“They had a couple of tough matches. Paulo lost 7-5, 7-6 in his. That’s very close. Gage and MaCoy could’ve won that middle match to go to the finals and just didn’t quite make it, but they came back and rallied and came in third. Ryan and Matthew (No. 3 doubles) got in the finals. Even Spencer (Killpack) and Karson (Krueger) at No. 1 doubles, that’s a tough place to be. Overall, I thought it went very well, and the nice thing is we only lose two (seniors) of ‘em.”

The Laramie girls struggled a little more. They came in sixth place with 14 points over the three days. Their top finish was by Ruby Dorrell and Morgan Moore at No. 1 doubles. They won the consolation for third place.

Clower said it was a great learning experience for a young team but felt they did well.

“At 3-doubles with Peyton (Thorburn) and Ava (Wallhead), they’re both freshmen. At 2-doubles with Chloe (Wallhead) a freshman and Makeda (Proctor) a sophomore. One-doubles had experience, and it showed. They (Dorrell/Moore) just happened to run into a buzzsaw with Kelly Walsh in the semis, but they came in third. Hannah (Peterson) and Mia (Wallhead) gained a lot of great singles experience this year, and they’re pretty determined right now to come back, and be even more competitive next year.”

The LHS girls lose only one senior in Dorrell.

Kelly Walsh won the girls’ team crown for the second straight year.

State Tennis

State Tennis

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