Center Grove tennis players Isabella Schoolcraft and Cassidy Hardin walked onto the court Saturday afternoon knowing very little about the school standing between them and a state championship.
Less, as it turned out, was more.
Playing relaxed, the juniors breezed to a 6-2, 6-1 triumph against Mia Toscos and Lauren VanWyngarden of Carroll (Fort Wayne) in the girls doubles title match at Park Tudor School.
Schoolcraft and Hardin, next-door neighbors since they were in elementary school, finished with a 23-0 record and are the program’s second doubles champion. They join the 2006 pairing of senior Melanie Sullivan and sophomore Becca Porter.
Trojans coach Debby Burton couldn’t help but be impressed with her doubles tandem, which made it to the championship match by eliminating two Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rivals.
Center Grove was pushed to three sets in Friday’s quarterfinal win against North Central and its semifinal victory against Carmel earlier in the day Saturday. In both cases, the Trojans won the first set, lost the second and then dominated the third.
“They went through some tough matches and got stronger and stronger and stronger and believing more and more in themselves,” Burton said. “We had some really tough competition the last two days. Those were two amazing, grinding matches.
“They came out loose (against Carroll). I think it’s sometimes easier to play people you don’t know. We know the North Central people. We know the Carmel people. We didn’t know who these people were, and I think we had some momentum going.”
Saturday’s events capped a memorable season for the Trojans, who as a team advanced to the quarterfinals of the State Finals before losing a 3-2 decision to eventual runner-up Providence.
Senior singles player Maddie Weeks became the first Center Grove girls tennis player to win the IHSAA’s Mental Attitude Award.