Freshmen help Franklin Regional tennis take charge of section
By Matt Grubba
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Relying on freshmen usually isn't a good thing for varsity teams.
But for Franklin Regional girls tennis, it's a path that has made the team undefeated at midseason.
The Panthers completed the first half of their Section 1-AAA schedule Monday by going on the road and taking a 4-1 win over a Penn-Trafford team that was playing for a share of the section lead.
As has been the case all season to this point, Franklin Regional (7-0, 7-0) swept the three singles matches without dropping a set, which secured the win before the doubles teams even set foot on one of the three courts at Penn-Trafford (6-2, 5-2).
Freshman Natalia Perry defeated P-T sophomore Charlotte Vertes, 6-2, 6-1, in a possible preview of the section singles final; senior Lauren Bailey defeated Warriors senior Alexis Ryan, 6-2, 6-0; and freshman Jenna Bailey topped another P-T sophomore, Rachel Ford, 6-0, 6-0.
Franklin Regional's strength at the top of the lineup has been the key to its success, and that has the team poised to make a return to the playoffs after missing out in 2011.
“We're very excited that we're undefeated right now, and we've already played everyone (in the section) once, so we know that we are able to go undefeated for the whole season,” Lauren Bailey said. “We're hoping that we can carry this on and end the season undefeated.”
The elder Bailey, who last year was the No. 1 singles player for FR, and Perry are fortunate to be in a position where they are able to push each other in practice. While many teams have a No. 1 player who is far above the level of her teammates, Perry and Lauren Bailey, as well as younger sister Jenna Bailey, all have the ability to test each other during practice.
“I definitely benefit from being able to practice with Natalia,” Lauren Bailey said. “Just hitting ground strokes with her, I can feel myself getting stronger because I'm practicing with someone who's above my level.”
One thing Lauren Bailey has that her singles teammates don't is experience playing in a team setting. Most talented young players are used to playing for themselves in USTA events, but playing for a team brings a different set of pressures and emotions.
“I can help them with what the routine is like in a match and what to focus on,” Lauren Bailey said.
“We all support each other. You're definitely nervous at first (in a team match) because you realize there are other people counting on you. But it's also more exciting to get a team win because it's not just you. You get to celebrate with each other.”
Though Franklin Regional has yet to drop a singles match, its doubles team have been picking up wins, as well.
Against P-T, the doubles pair of juniors Victoria Zhang and Sana Seth squeaked out a close win over Melanie Loughner and Hanna Phillips, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7). Senior Grayce Behnke and junior Brittany Weiner fell in their doubles match against Dana Kelly and Sarah Rupchack of the Warriors, 7-5, 6-3.
In addition to those players, juniors Hayley Lee and Manal Piracha also have featured in doubles matches for coach Howard Fisher's lineup, which gives the Panthers a great mix of depth and strength at the top.
The Panthers had one other match scheduled for this week, a section contest at home against Norwin on Wednesday, after this edition's deadline.
Franklin Regional again is hosting the section singles tournament, which begins at noon Thursday. Perry will be the top seed for the tournament, and both she and Lauren Bailey will have a shot to reach the WPIAL tournament as one of the top three finishers.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Stage volunteer dies following collapse at Pine-Richland High School
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh
- Top pitching prospect Taillon’s time with Pirates must wait a bit
- Hempfield couple charged in thefts
- Pirates notebook: Martin finding power stroke
- Man with stolen passport on lost jet was asylum seeker
- Kittanning youths OK after Route 422 crash