Franklin Regional girls tennis players eye section title

Saturday, September 17, 2022 | 11:01 AM

The Franklin Regional girls tennis team finds itself in a familiar spot as the regular season nears its midway point — atop Section 1-3A.

The Panthers (5-0, 4-0) have defeated returning section champion Latrobe, 4-1, and are eyeing a big match Sept. 23 against Penn-Trafford, which features section singles champion Mia Williams. Norwin was the other playoff team a year ago.

Franklin Regional is led by junior Ellen Liu, who finished third in the section singles tournament Sept. 15 by defeating Latrobe freshman Taylor Shanefelter. Liu lost a tough semifinal-round match to Latrobe senior Avery Massaro. She also placed third in 2021.

Penn-Trafford is our biggest match remaining,” Franklin Regional coach Howard Fisher said. “Our goal is to win the section and obviously the WPIAL team championship.

“We’re working hard as a team to achieve that goal. Everyone on the team is focused on the task at hand. They’re playing together.”

Liu and senior captain Hannah Zheng played in the section singles tournament.

“I hope to finish higher than I did last year,” Liu said. “Hopefully, battling back to finish third boosts my confidence.”

Freshman Michelle Yan has stepped in to secure the third singles spot, while sophomores Rachel Poltinnikov and Lucy Zheng play on the top doubles team.

Fisher, in his 41st season as coach, said numerous girls have played at second doubles, including sophomore Makinzie Marcus and seniors Chloe Kruck, Clare Falce, Cameron Lantz, Heather Guzik and Chelsea Williams.

Kruck is the other captain.

“We have the luxury to rotate the girls on the doubles teams,” Fisher said. “They will all play enough to earn a letter, and it allows them to feel that they’ve contributed to the success of the team.”

The girls follow the same motto as the boys, ‘TEAM,” which stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.

“Everyone cheers and supports each other,” Zheng said. “We play together and push each other.”

Kruck added: “I don’t believe other teams at the school have what we have — togetherness. We’re connected.”

Other than a 4-1 win against Latrobe, the Panthers’ other key win was a nonsection victory against Allderdice.

“They had beaten us last year, so that was a good confidence builder for us,” Fisher said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected for the correct spelling of Clare Falce.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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