Even without his New England Patriots sweatshirt, Noah Roberts had the look of a champion.
Franklin’s No. 1 singles player was all smiles Saturday evening after his victory against Greenwood’s Jacob Gray, and that smile was significantly amplified when his Grizzly Cub teammates wrapped up the first boys tennis sectional title in school history.
Roberts and the Grizzly Cubs topped the Woodmen, 4-1, and will face Franklin Central in the Center Grove Regional semifinal Tuesday.
“The kids were really looking forward to playing tonight,” Franklin coach Rod Snyder said. “They earned the spot to get there, and they were all ready to compete at their highest level.”
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Roberts’ 6-2, 6-2 triumph got the ball rolling for the Grizzly Cubs in the final, and a 7-5, 6-1 victory by the No. 2 doubles team of Josiah Rockey and Ethan Klem pushed the team to the brink of victory.
When the No. 1 doubles team of Jacob Rockey and Logan Snyder clinched the crown with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win against Greenwood’s Jacob Rothaar and Alex Walsh, the Franklin contingent let loose in celebration. Even Jonah Rockey, who was still in the process of wrapping up a 6-3, 6-1 victory at No. 2 singles, let loose with a shout of happiness in the middle of his match.
Greenwood’s Grant Bryant picked up his team’s lone point with a 7-5, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles.
“I guess today we just came out to play to win,” Roberts said after Franklin had secured the first three matches. “It’s great. We’ve never won sectionals before, so I don’t really know how to feel.”
The Grizzly Cubs certainly weren’t taking the Woodmen for granted — Franklin prevailed 3-2 in two previous head-to-head meetings before Greenwood earned a measure of revenge by winning the Mid-State Conference tournament the previous weekend.
Greenwood earned its way into the final Saturday afternoon by eking out a 3-2 decision against Center Grove. Senior Jack O’Reilly picked up the winning point when he rallied from a set down to top Nic Ballesteros, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“It was certainly something fun to watch,” Greenwood coach Justin Moran said. “Jack’s been a fighter all four years here.”
Franklin had already clinched its semifinal match against Indian Creek before Friday’s rain forced postponement of the remaining action. The Grizzly Cubs closed out their 5-0 win earlier Saturday afternoon.