For the Daily Journal
Franklin Community’s dream high school tennis season isn’t completely over yet.
Second-ranked Park Tudor knocked off No. 25 Franklin 4-1 Saturday in the semistate at Center Grove High School to advance to Friday’s state quarterfinals. However, Franklin senior Noah Roberts edged Panthers sophomore Aiden Harris 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 in the No. 1 singles final to advance in the state singles tournament.
Roberts (23-2) will play Saturday in the Fishers regional.
The Grizzly Cubs finished 17-3, winning the first sectional and regional titles in the program’s history.
“It was the first time in 39 years we won the county tournament,” said Rod Snyder, in his 13th season as Franklin’s coach. “It’s pretty big stuff for us.”
Snyder said this was a good step for the program.
“They played well,” Snyder said his team Saturday. “On the doubles side, (Park Tudor) just moved a little bit better. They put the balls where we weren’t. They put the balls in between us or down the line. We knew it was going to be a tall task.”
The Grizzly Cubs will return five of their top seven players, with Roberts and Jacob Rockey (No. 1 doubles) graduating in the spring.
“It’s just a matter of a lot of hard work and dedication, not only in the offseason but working hard in the summer,” Snyder said of the season’s success. “Then coming in with confidence. I’d like to think we’re building on something.”
Snyder praised Roberts for a good win in windy conditions.
“He knows what to expect moving on as an individual,” Snyder said. “We’ve just got to get him to relax and play the way he knows how to play.”
Roberts said the key against Harris was how he played the wind.
“I was using the wind to my advantage on both sides,” he explained. “I was just trying to keep the ball in. Getting first serves in was big.”
Roberts said his team battled hard against the Panthers.
“We played our hearts out,” said Roberts, who has committed to play for Marian University next season. “I think we’re satisfied. You can’t be upset. We weren’t even expected to get past sectionals. (The returning players) are going to get positive energy off of this.”
Replacing Roberts will be awfully difficult.
“He played No. 1 singles all four years and only lost 10 matches,” Snyder said. “He’ll be very difficult to replace, if we can replace him.”
The Panthers’ No. 1 doubles team of Will Emhardt and Jaren Katz topped Jacob Rockey and junior Logan Snyder 6-3, 6-1. Rockey’s two younger brothers will return next season. Junior Jonah Rockey was defeated by Park Tudor’s Drew Wiegel 6-1, 6-3 at No. 2 singles. Josiah Rockey, a sophomore, and junior Ethan Klem lost to Alex Kim and Benton Wiegel 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles. At No. 3 singles, Park Tudor’s Vijay Tewari topped junior Andrew Bennett 6-0, 6-0.