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Franklin girls tennis falls in semifinal state

Franklin girls tennis falls in semifinal state


Although Franklin’s girls’ tennis team was disappointed by the state’s semifinal loss, Grizzly Cubs coach Rusty Hughes was quick to put it into perspective.

“It was a storybook season,” said Hughes. “It was like a fairy tale. All our kids got up, singles and doubles.

The No. 8 Grizzly Cubs suffered their first loss in 28 games when No. 1 South Bend St. Joseph won 4-1 in the IHSAA State Semifinals at Center Grove on Saturday. It was the first time the Grizzly Cubs had made it to tennis. Franklin won the first state half by beating No. 6 Park Tudor 3-2 and then defeated No. 20 Castle 4-1 in Friday’s quarterfinals.

The No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Kate Pinnick and junior Kennedy Urban finished undefeated, defeating St. Joseph’s Lily Mayfield and Maggie Nguyen 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 in the final game ending.

“They’ve had a great season,” Hughes said of his No. 2 tandem. “I’m sure they are proud of themselves for fighting.”

St. Joseph had broken serve to tie the score at 5-all before Franklin won the last two games.

“We really just wanted to win for ourselves,” said Pinnick. “We wanted to win it out of pride. But it was also for the team. We’ve made it so far. I think a win for the team is uplifting after a tough loss.

Communication has been the greatest strength of the doubles partners.

“If you’re playing doubles, it’s important to talk to your partner,” said Pinnick. “We both play volleyball, so we’re pretty good at that.”

“When one of us is down, the other is there to pick the other up,” Urban agreed.

Urban said Pinnick gave her a quick pep talk after St. Joseph broke to make it 5-all.

“Kate reeled me back in and said, ‘Let’s go do this and let’s finish it,'” Urban said. “That’s exactly what we did.”

In the No. 1 doubles match, Dani Graham and Gracie Velasko defeated Franklin senior Ailyn Hendricks and freshman Marnie Moore 6-1, 6-2. That was Hendricks and Moore’s first loss in the postseason, eliminating the duo from the individual doubles tournament.

The Indians dominated in the three singles games, losing only four games in total. Molly Bellia, the 2021 state singles champion, defeated junior Rylie Wilkison 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1. At No. 2, Ashi Amalnathan defeated junior Chelsie Rayl 6-0, 6-2. Anni Amalnathan lost her only match in the second set against senior Emma Williams at No. 3.

Pinnick said the experience should be good for the returning girls.

“We’re ready for next season,” said Pinnick. “We should be very good.”

Urban said the team should be pretty deep next season as well.

“But we will certainly miss our two seniors; they were great,” Urban said of Williams and Hendricks.

Hughes said both seniors have been great all year.

Despite her freshman season being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams set the record for most singles wins at Franklin.

“We used 11 starters during the season,” said Hughes. “That’s a lot of people who played varsity. That gives more satisfaction.”

Hughes said his assistant coaches, Amanda Ray, Stan Wilkison and Holyn Stonebraker were instrumental in the team’s success.




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