Franklin girls tennis rolls to regional championship

Franklin senior Chelsie Rayl’s competitive tennis career is nearing its end.

But she certainly hopes it keeps going a little longer.

“We knew going into that Center Grove was our biggest competition on our way to semistate,” said Rayl, who will attend Purdue in the fall. “So once we got past Center Grove, everyone has been pretty confident and everyone’s been playing really well.”

Just as important was maintaining focus after topping Center Grove 4-1 in last week’s sectional opener.

“We knew we had to come out and play these teams and not just assume that we’re going to win even though we beat them in the past; anything can happen a second time,” said Rayl, who downed Roncalli’s Kate Rittenhouse 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles.

The sixth-ranked Grizzly Cubs (26-0) had no serious letdowns in shutting out Roncalli 5-0 Wednesday to capture the Center Grove Regional title. Franklin will now play Columbus North, which was tied for No. 14 in the final state rankings, in Saturday’s semistate championship at Center Grove.

“We’re all hoping we can get past the semistate, but we’re just going to try our best and see what happens,” Rayl said.

While Franklin reached the state semifinals last year, senior Rylie Wilkison said the team isn’t putting pressure on itself to get back there.

“We’re taking it one point at a time and we’ve got to get through every single match,” Wilkison said.

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Wilkison remained unbeaten at No. 1 singles with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over senior Rebecca Zakrowski. However, there were some very long points, especially as Wilkison was trying to close out the match.

“She’s just a tough player to play against because she hits the ball back every time, so it’s frustrating,” said Wilkison, who is headed to play at Southern Indiana.

Junior Kate Pinnick and senior Kennedy Urban had the longest match at No. 1 doubles, beating Thalia Guzman and Evie Eble 6-0, 7-6 (7-2).

“We didn’t play as high (a level) as we have been playing,” Pinnick said. “We played well in the first set and then just let down. Then it was like ‘Oh shoot, we’ve got to go.’ But I definitely feel like it prepared us for Saturday, having a closer match.”

Franklin sophomore Marnie Moore lost only one game in beating Lily Rutherford at No. 2 singles. The Grizzly Cubs’ No. 2 doubles duo of junior Maleah Murphy and senior Emma Sappenfield dropped just one game in each set while defeating Lily Bauman and Morgan Vaught.

“Certain people played better than others,” Franklin coach Rusty Hughes said. “Roncalli was a nice team, so they pushed us.”

Hughes said this team is similar to last year’s team.

“We have more experienced singles players than we did last year, and last year we had a little more experience in doubles,” Hughes said. “But we’re still good at both, and we were last year, too.”

Center Grove’s No. 1 doubles team of seniors Ava Beecher and Lauren Dick won the individual doubles sectional title Wednesday by beating Shelbyville’s Sophie Asher and Sydney Baker 6-1, 6-1. They will play in Saturday’s regional at Fishers.