Behind strong performances at each position, tournament host Center Grove defeated Franklin Central 5-0 in Wednesday’s championship match of the girls tennis regional.
The No. 10 Trojans (16-3) have now won 10 consecutive matches and will next compete in Saturday’s Center Grove Semistate against the regional winner between Park Tudor and Terre Haute South.
Sophomore Isabella Schoolcraft got the Trojans off on the right foot in a hard-hitting No. 1 singles match against Franklin Central junior Addison Laker, the same opponent she faced in last year’s regional final.
With powerful ground strokes and accurate serve, Schoolcraft won the match 6-0, 6-1.
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Schoolcraft is confident the Trojans’ team momentum will lift them in the semistate, where they lost 3-2 last year to Terre Haute South.
“We had a really tough loss in last year’s semistate,” Schoolcraft said. “That’s just pushed us that much harder from our first practice this year. We’re working just as hard if not harder now.
“We’re remembering what that felt like last year to lose and don’t want it to happen again.”
Schoolcraft said the transition from her play as a freshman to this season has been instrumental in her success.
“Last year I was definitely more intimidated by the older players,” she said. “But this year I’ve been so much more confident in my approach, so I’m stepping up and trying to hit a bigger goal.”
Meanwhile, Trojans junior Maddie Weeks continued her steady play at No. 2 singles, beating Flashes senior Emma Klee, 6-1, 6-0.
At No. 3 singles, freshman Ellie Strube got off to a fast start and breezed by Franklin Central sophomore Emily Norhoff, 6-1, 6-0.
Strube, the only newcomer to the Trojans’ starting lineup from a year ago, has found a nice groove at her position after spending much of the first half of the season playing doubles.
“Everyone has been really great. They’ve kind of brought me in and taught me how things work around here, and that includes having a good attitude and be able to cheer everyone on a lot,” Strube said. “Playing all the top teams in the state makes us better and better.
“We’re individuals on the court, but we are a team first.”
In the doubles competition, Center Grove’s Nos. 1 and 2 teams finished their work in less than an hour.
Junior Bailey Sammons and sophomore Cassidy Hardin defeated Flashes seniors Jasmine Kahlia and Lauren Hall 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles.
And at No. 2, senior Madison Smeathers and junior Carleigh Hardin beat Franklin Central seniors Emily Crowel and Riley May, 6-1, 6-1.
In individual state tournament play, Roncalli junior Kathleen Ditton defeated Indian Creek senior Candace Danz 6-1, 6-3 to win the Center Grove-hosted sectional championship.