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Franklin Regional's tennis season ends in quarters

| Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

Franklin Regional's girls tennis team had its best season in recent years, but the best still might be yet to come.

The Panthers picked up a win in the WPIAL Class AAA tournament before their season ended Monday with a 4-0 loss to top-seeded Mt. Lebanon in the quarterfinals at Keystone Oaks High School.

Franklin Regional (15-1) defeated No. 9 seed Bethel Park, 3-2, at home in the opening round of the tournament, which made it the first Section 1-AAA team to win a WPIAL tournament match since Latrobe in 2009. The playoff win was a good cap to a section-title season that saw the Panthers establish themselves as the team to beat for years to come.

“Our early-season goal was to make the playoffs, and once we did that, the team wanted to at least make the quarterfinals and be one of the top eight teams,” Franklin Regional coach Howard Fisher said. “Bethel Park was a talented team, and I'm very satisfied with how they played in that match and all season long.”

The Panthers' two freshmen singles players, Natalia Perry and Jenna Bailey, both earned wins against Bethel Park, while the doubles team of Brittney Weiner and Victoria Zhang got the doubles win Franklin Regional needed to advance.

Franklin Regional was shut out by the top-seeded Blue Devils, though Perry's match against Mt. Lebanon's Callie Frey, a rematch of the WPIAL singles semifinals, went incomplete because of rain with a score of 6-4, 2-4, in Frey's favor. In total, FR's singles players finished the year 44-3 in completed team matches.

Fisher is eager to see how his team will improve next year with so much young talent, but he also talked about how integral his two captains, seniors Lauren Bailey and Grayce Behnke, were to the team's success this year.

“Any team appreciates having experienced players, and both our captains showed a lot of leadership,” Fisher said.

“We paired her with a lot of people, but Grayce was essential to our first doubles team. Lauren played well through a wrist injury at second singles and won 14 matches for us. The two of them really helped the team bond together this year.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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