Through 15 matches, the doubles team of Isabella Schoolcraft and Cassidy Hardin has yet to be pushed to a third set.

Both Center Grove juniors anticipate a great deal more suspense later this week at the Individual State Tennis Tournament at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis.

One of eight doubles combinations in contention for a state championship, Schoolcraft and Hardin aspire to bring home the program’s second doubles title and first in 11 years.

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“At this level, nothing is a walk in the park. But both players are very talented, and they have a great opportunity this weekend,” Trojans coach Debby Burton said.

“They’re the same age and they’ve grown up together. There’s definitely a chemistry, personality-wise.”

Schoolcraft and Hardin weren’t paired until the match at Bloomington North on May 2. Prior to that, Schoolcraft served as the Trojans’ No. 1 singles player. Hardin teamed with sophomore Ellie Strube at No. 1 doubles.

Aware that potential State Finals opponents Providence and South Bend St. Joseph were extremely talented at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, Burton sought to strengthen the Trojans in doubles.

Senior Katelyn Gray moved to No. 1 singles; Schoolcraft paired with Cassidy Hardin, while Strube, a sophomore who a year ago played No. 3 singles, started teaming with senior Carleigh Hardin as Center Grove’s second doubles duo.

“There is a lot of thought that went into that decision,” Schoolcraft said. “I’m not typically a doubles player, but then about halfway through our first match, (Cassidy Hardin) and I looked at each other like, ‘This is awesome.’”

The strategy might not have produced such impressive results had there not already been a close bond between them.

“Isabella and I are actually next-door neighbors, so we’ve been friends since we were 5 years old,” Hardin said. “Because we’ve known each other so long, I feel that chemistry carries over to the tennis court.”

The program’s doubles heyday was from 2004-06, when former Trojans player Melanie Sullivan advanced to the championship match all three seasons.

A runner-up with Megan Farley both as a sophomore and junior, Sullivan broke through in 2006, teaming with sophomore Becca Porter to cap a 26-0 season and claim what remains Center Grove’s lone girls doubles state title.

Since then, doubles teams from six different high schools have been crowned state champion — Clarksville, North Central, Brebeuf Jesuit, Carmel, Highland and Evansville Memorial.

Center Grove is out to make it seven.

“Our goal is definitely first place, and we really think that we can,” Schoolcraft said.

If you go

What: Girls Individual State Tennis Tournament

Where: Park Tudor School

Admission: $5 per day

Doubles

Quarterfinals (Friday, 2 p.m.)

Julia Miller/Grace Marchese (Carmel) vs. Danielle Summitt/Lauren Winchell (Christian Academy of Indiana)

Isabella Schoolcraft/Cassidy Hardin (Center Grove) vs. Susan Biederstedt/Autumn Clark (North Central)

Mia Toscos/Lauren VanWyngarden (Fort Wayne Carroll) vs. Magdalen Dickerson/Layla Jojo (Elkhart Memorial)

Talle Corrigan/Kayla Graham (South Bend St. Joseph) vs. Samantha Academia/Maddia Minniear (Yorktown)

Semifinals

Saturday, 10 a.m.

Championship

Saturday, 2 p.m.

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.