Center Grove tennis wins regional crown

Center Grove senior Ashlee Fisk was feeling much more confident about her tennis game Wednesday.

“I definitely played a lot better than I did (Tuesday),” Fisk said. “I hit the ball better and my contact point was better.”

Fisk dropped just one game in the opening set in beating Brooklyn Schiffli at No. 1 singles in the host Trojans’ 5-0 regional championship victory over previously unbeaten Triton Central. She only dropped two games against Southport in the regional semifinals Tuesday, but this was smoother.

“I’ve got to get even better for Saturday’s match, because that match is huge,” Fisk said.

The No. 8 Trojans (16-3), who won their sixth consecutive regional title, will face No. 3 Park Tudor in Saturday’s semistate at Center Grove. The Panthers edged Center Grove 3-2 earlier in the season.

“Park Tudor is a great opponent,” Center Grove coach Debby Burton said. “We have a chance to win. I know everyone believes that. We have to do a little of what we’ve seen in some of our matches to frustrate them. Taking some pace off, going higher with the ball and throw them off their rhythm.”

One of Fisk’s three losses was to Park Tudor’s Lauren Long.

“It wasn’t the outcome I wanted,” Fisk said. ‘I’ve been dealing with an arm issue all season. That match, in particular, I was really struggling with that. We’re going to have some fun Saturday, and hopefully we’ll have the outcome we want.”

Fisk said the coaches gave her some specific things to work on in the regional.

“I knew because my matches (in the regional) weren’t going to be as high level as Saturday, I went into the matches working on a few things,” Fisk said. “I worked on being more aggressive. Tuesday the reason why I didn’t play well is I was trying to be too aggressive, whereas today I reeled that in a little bit.”

Fisk said she would love one last trip to state. The Trojans lost in the quarterfinal round in 2018 and in the semis in 2019. There was no 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The atmosphere there is so great,” said Fisk, who will play for Indiana Wesleyan University next season.

Center Grove captured its first three points against Triton Central without dropping a game. Freshman Deepthi Shankar topped Lelia Chougule at No. 3 singles. Seniors Sydney Plowman and Sapna Vyas shut out Kelsey McGuire and Ainsley Denton at No. 1 doubles and freshman Lauren Dick and junior Hudson Gilstorf beat Alyssa Wheatley and Emma Hutchinson at second doubles.

“We took care of business at No. 3 singles and No. 1 and 2 doubles very quickly,” Burton said. “Ashlee had a little tougher match, but she was off the court quickly.”

Finishing well after those matches was senior No. 2 singles player Sonya Vyas, who beat Julia Sanders 6-2, 7-5.

“Sonya was down 2-0 in the first set, turned in around and won 11 straight games,” Burton said. “Even though she lost her composure for a little bit, she regained that composure and won. I always say winning matches like this gives you some resolve.”

In the individual doubles sectional, Franklin Central’s team of Carly Sobieralski and Devin Cooney topped Franklin’s sister duo of senior Haylie Rayl and freshman Chelsie Rayl 6-1, 6-3.

“That team’s a really good team,” Grizzly Cubs coach Rusty Hughes said. “We had a great team. (The Rayls) were 24-2. That’s what happens in the state tournament; good teams eventually lose, too.”