Bull Dogs capture eighth consecutive regional title

The Columbus North girls tennis team poses for a photo with the trophy following its North Regional final victory against Southwestern (Hanover) on Wednesday. Pictured are, from left, Lucy Bergman, Lizzie Bodart, Aya Saad, Kathryn Wilson, Lison Cloteaux, Grace Conner and Annabelle Sun.

James Pence | For The Republic

Host Columbus North took care of business once again in Wednesday by easily defeating Southwestern (Hanover) 5-0 to win its eighth consecutive girls tennis regional and advance to the semistate round.

Now the postseason truly begins for the co-No. 14 Bull Dogs as the competition heats up in a big way when they take on sixth-ranked Franklin in the Center Grove Semistate at noon Saturday.

“It’s really exciting,” North senior Kathryn Wilson said. “This isn’t something that everyone gets to do, and I’m grateful I came in on a good team.”

It only took 30 minutes for Wilson to blank Natalie Larue 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles. Five minutes later, Aya Saad finished off Emma Harmon 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 singles. Annabelle Sun topped Annie Ford 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles for the Bull Dogs (16-4).

North’s Lucy Bergman and Lizzie Bodart downed Raygan Crawford and Ava Barnes 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles. Grace Conner and Lison Cloteaux defeated Jocelyn Johnson and Kaylee Hite 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles.

“I thought from position to position, we did well and did what we needed to do,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “My singles are coming through. The doubles played well. Both doubles played well (in Tuesday’s semifinal win against East Central), and I thought they played well today. They made less mistakes, did a better job hitting balls in play, putting balls away and that’s what we need to do against the better teams. They’ve just got to have that confidence moving into the next level.”

The Bull Dogs will be the underdog heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Grizzly Cubs. The most recent common opponent both teams share is Center Grove. Franklin defeated the Trojans 4-1 in the sectional, and North lost to Center Grove 3-2 in a regular-season match.

The Bull Dogs obviously have the edge at No. 1 singles, but it comes down to where they can pick up the other two points.

“The level is definitely going to get stronger from here on out,” Hammel said. “We know their singles players, and we know they are solid. How the doubles are going to work out, we don’t know yet. We do have the advantage at No. 1 singles with Kathryn and know what she needs to do in that situation.”