Franklin girls tennis reaches regional final

By Mark Ambrogi | For the Daily Journal

Franklin junior tennis player Emma Williams is convinced there is a good reason why her team is one victory away from a semistate appearance.

“We have so much depth on our team, it’s insane,” Williams said. “Our JV team team is insane. We could put any girl on the court and they would do fine. We all show up and work hard, and that’s where we make our biggest leaps.”

Unbeaten Franklin shut out Roncalli 5-0 Tuesday in a regional semifinal at Center Grove.

The No. 11 Grizzly Cubs will meet Triton Central, a 3-2 winner over Perry Meridian, at 4:30 p.m. today in the championship match at Center Grove. The UIndy Tennis Center will be the site if rain forces the match inside.

Williams said there was hope at the start of the season that the team would be in this position.

“We knew it would take a long journey,” she said.

The most improvement in Williams’ game has been mental. Williams played No. 3 singles last year as well.

“Going into a match, I know this player is going to be good but I’m a good player, too,” she said.

Mental toughness came into play Tuesday, as Williams needed to focus to close out a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Bridget Hehmann at No. 3.

Leading 5-2 in the second set, Williams played a marathon final game before closing it out.

Franklin sophomore Rylie Wilkison was a 6-1, 6-0 winner over sophomore Rebecca Zakrowski at No. 1 singles. At No. 2 singles, sophomore Chelsie Rayl defeated senior Allison Feltz 6-0, 6-3.

“I felt confident, it was a good match,” said Rayl, who played No. 1 doubles last season with her older sister, Haylie, a 2021 graduate.

Rayl has been surprised with how well her team has performed all season.

“I did not see this coming, but I’m really proud of our team,” Rayl said. “We’re only losing one girl and I expect us to be just as good next year.”

Haley Haldeman, Franklin’s lone senior, and junior Ailyn Hendricks edged senior Katrina Gangstad and junior Elsie Kerr 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.

Franklin’s No. 2 doubles team of sophomores Emma Sappenfield and Kennedy Urban defeated senior Sophia Saran and sophomore Marisa Morwick 6-1, 7-5.

Grizzly Cubs coach Rusty Hughes said he expected this would be a good team.

“You don’t know when you coach tennis how matchups will be with other teams,” Hughes said. “But I felt depth-wise we were really strong. We play nine people in our starting lineup because we rotate at No. 2 doubles.”

In the singles tournament, Southport’s Carlie Streit eliminated Indian Creek’s Lauren Foster 6-4, 6-4. The Braves’ No. 1 doubles team of Emilee Scott and Olivia Perry lost to Waldron’s Megan Bogemann and Mackenzie Shaw 7-5, 6-4.