Co-No. 14 Bull Dogs to face No. 6 Grizzly Cubs in semistate

Columbus North’s Kathryn Wilson sets up to hit a shot in a No. 1 singles sectional tennis match against Columbus East May 15 at Columbus North High School.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

For years, Columbus North’s path to the Boys or Girls Tennis State finals went through the Jasper Semistate.

Realignment sent the Bull Dogs north this year, but the competition didn’t get any easier. The co-No. 14-ranked Bull Dog girls will face No. 6 Franklin at noon Saturday in the Center Grove Semistate.

North (16-4) captured its eighth consecutive regional title on Wednesday with a 5-0 win against Southwestern (Hanover).

“I think we’re playing well,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “I think we had a couple nice matches in the regional. My three singles spots are playing very well, and that’s what they’re going to have to do against Franklin because Franklin has three good, solid singles players, too.”

Franklin, meanwhile, is undefeated at 26-0 after blitzling through the Center Grove Regional. The Grizzly Cubs, who blanked Roncalli 5-0 in Wednesday’s regional final, beat archrival Center Grove 4-1 in last week’s sectional.

“I know they beat Center Grove 4-1, and we lost to Center Grove 3-2, but our lineup is totally different, and I don’t know how that’s going to affect those matchups,” Hammel said. “Hopefully, we can pull out one of those doubles spots.”

Defending state singles champion Kathryn Wilson of North, will face unbeaten Franklin senior Rylie Wilkison at No. 1 singles. Wilson’s older sister Ashlie beat Wilkinson in the state singles quarterfinals in 2022.

North juniors Aya Saad and Annabelle Sun will meet Grizzly Cub sophomore Marnie Moore and senior Chelsie Rayl at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively. At No. 1 doubles, it will be Bull Dog junior Lizzie Bodart and sophomore Lucy Bergman against Franklin senior Kennedy Urban and junior Kate Pinnick. No. 2 doubles will be a battle between North senior Lison Cloteaux and junior Grace Conner and Franklin senior Emma Sappenfield and junior Maleah Murphy.

“We will probably have the edge at 1 singles,” Hammel said. “But at 2 singles and at 3 singles, it’s hard to say. I’m not sure what to expect. We will have to be playing very well.”