DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The Franklin Community High School girls tennis team kept its chances for a sectional championship alive with a 4-1 opening-round victory Thursday against Whiteland.
With the victory, the Grizzly Cubs (11-5) advance to today’s 4:30 p.m. semifinals against Indian Creek (11-6). Tournament-host and 12th-ranked Center Grove (11-7) meets defending sectional champion Greenwood (9-8) in today’s other 4:30 p.m. semifinal.
The championship is 9 a.m. Saturday.
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In less than 30 minutes, Franklin’s No. 1 doubles team of seniors Ashlyn Smith and Katelyn Bemis dispatched Whiteland senior Alesia Robinson and sophomore Aveneet Badwal, 6-2, 6-1.
The No. 2 doubles team of junior Nina Biasi and sophomore Kaitlyn Ogden ran their undefeated record to 18-0 this season, beating the Whiteland duo of senior Sami Jo Hart and sophomore Kairi Kayoda, 6-4, 6-0.
“From the start, we’ve been together all season, and we’ve really learned how to play together,” Biasi said. “We kind of know how to manage it and play to each other’s strengths to make it work.”
“As a left-handed player, I can set her up very well at the net because she has quick hands, so if I place the shot just right she can finish it at the net,” she said.
Franklin coach Rusty Hughes attributes the doubles teams’ success to their work ethic.
“It’s all about hard work,” he said. “The work our doubles teams have put in during the offseason and during this season has paid big dividends for them this year. We knew that would be the strength of our team going in. The biggest thing we try to overcome in doubles is getting two people to play as one, and when you’re able to do that, then you can be very efficient.”
Meanwhile, at No. 1 singles, Franklin freshman Abigail Smith defeated Warriors junior Madison Scott 6-1, 6-2.
Smith said playing the No. 1 position has been challenging.
“The first time out I was terrified to hit the ball, and now I hit it as hard as I can and when it goes in, I’m really happy,” she said. “I’m always working on keeping a level head especially when things aren’t going my way.
“I’ve also learned to keep fighting for the point and not giving up on it.”
At No. 3 singles, Franklin senior Lexi Hash defeated Whiteland sophomore Paityn Gossett, 6-3, 6-1.
The Warriors’ lone point came at No. 2 singles, where senior Alexis Corda defeated senior Morgan McCarter 7-5, 6-2.
Whiteland coach Mike Gillespie said he was pleased with the team’s overall performance this year. The Warriors finished 9-9.
“The season goes by so fast,” he said. “I’m real proud of this team from beginning to end, so we got a lot accomplished.
“We always put a lineup on the court that we think is going to make us better and give us the best chance to win, but Rusty (Hughes) is an awesome coach, and his teams always seem to play well.”