Franklin and Center Grove each picked up wins in the opening round of the Johnson County Boys Tennis Tournament on Tuesday.
Franklin scored a hard-fought 3-2 win against Whiteland, while Center Grove rolled to an easy 5-0 victory against Edinburgh. Both schools will return to action today in the semifinals.
Franklin, ranked 30th in the current state coaches poll, needed every point it could get to put away the rival Warriors. Two of the five matches went three sets, and a third match was played close throughout.
“We had to grind one out on Saturday in our regular-season match (with Whiteland) and had a grind today,” Franklin coach Rod Snyder said. “Fortunately, we were able to come out on top.”
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Both No. 2 doubles and No. 2 singles went the distance, with the two schools splitting the matches.
At No. 2 doubles, the Franklin tandem of Ethan Klem and Russell Chain outlasted Whiteland’s Travis Robinson and Lane Stephenson 7-6, 5-7, 6-3. It was this win that officially clinched the team victory for the Grizzly Cubs.
The No. 2 singles match was even longer, with Whiteland’s Caleb Scott and Franklin’s Logan Snyder battling well into the evening before Scott finally came out on top 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a match that ended just before 8 p.m.
“We’ve had our share of three-set matches this year and we’re probably 60 percent as a team,” Snyder said. “It is what it is. Sometimes you come out on top and sometimes you don’t.”
Franklin’s Josiah Rockey had the easiest time on the night, defeating Whiteland’s Corey Ullrich 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. The Grizzly Cubs’ Corbin Burton and Andy Bennett held off Whiteland’s Mason Laugle and Garrison Pelfree 7-5, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.
Whiteland’s other win came at No. 1 singles, where the Warriors’ Quinten Gillespie defeated Franklin’s Jonah Rockey 6-4, 6-0.
Center Grove had little trouble dispatching Edinburgh in its match at home. The Trojans lost just a total of four games on the day while sweeping every match.
In singles action, Trey Thixton defeated Coltan Henderson 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1, Nic Ballesteros beat Bladen Hancock 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 and J.T. Embrey knocked off Ryan Gaston 6-0, 6-2 at No. 3.
In doubles, Eli Lawyer-Smith and Mitch Runkle beat Edinburgh’s Brayden McManaway and Gabe Wilson 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 and Mason Runkle and Grant Herron defeated Parker Bryant and Bryce Burton 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2.
After the match, Center Grove honored longtime coach Ivan Smith with an award and a sign for winning his 700th career match against Castle last week in the Jasper tournament. Only one other coach in Indiana high school history, Floyd Central’s Rick Miller, has won 700 tennis matches in his career.
Center Grove will serve as the site of the tournament semifinals this afternoon. Center Grove will face 24th-ranked Greenwood, while Franklin takes on Indian Creek.