For the Daily Journal
Wet courts and frigid temperatures prevented the Johnson County Girls Tennis Tournament from being completed over the weekend.
But Monday, Mother Nature delivered a warm and sunny day to finally help move the tournament along.
Defending champion Center Grove dispatched Franklin 5-0 in a semifinal match to advance to the championship round against the winner of Wednesday’s match between Indian Creek and Whiteland.
The date for the title match is yet to be determined.
The Trojans (7-1) got off to a fast start in the No. 2 singles match when senior Katlelyn Gray hammered out a 6-0, 6-0 win against Franklin sophomore Kate Huechan.
Gray, a three-year starter, had everything working for her, including a dominant serve and forehand.
The future Taylor University player said all the hard work the team put in during the offseason has paid big dividends.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of extra practice time and doing other extra things that set us apart from others,” Gray said. “Getting back to state is our number one goal.”
The rest of the Trojans were nearly as dominant as Gray. One by one, they came off the court with wins.
Sophomore Jillian Garrett defeated Franklin junior Abi Smith 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles, and junior Isabella Schoolcraft ousted freshman Lexi Wilkerson 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1.
Trojans coach Debby Burton said her team has come ready to play every time out.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in the offseason on the court and the girls have really come together and have a great chemistry,” she said. “They’re really focused on getting back to the state finals.”
Commenting on both the experienced players and the youth of the team, Burton said they are fortunate to have strength in both areas.
“It’s important to keep that pipeline full so you can keep things going,” she said. “We have some good senior leadership and some young kids that are really excited about playing.”
In the No. 1 doubles match, Center Grove senior Maddie Weeks combined with junior Ellie Strube to defeat freshmen Rachel Pinnick and Mason Bennett in straight sets 6-0, 6-0.
And at No. 2 doubles, Center Grove senior Carleigh Hardin teamed with junior Emily Hoy for a 6-2, 6-2 win against juniors Ella Pheifer and Aden Smith.
With the loss, Franklin falls to 5-2 on the season.