Franklin Regional girls tennis team eyes another section title

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Saturday, September 16, 2023 | 11:01 AM


When Franklin Regional celebrates Senior Day on Friday (Sept. 22), Ellen Liu will be the only one honored.

That’s because the 2023 team is loaded with underclassmen.

“A lot of my friends will be there to support me and watch me against Amelia,” Liu said. “It’s a big day and hopefully I’ll do my best.”

Liu will be facing the returning WPIAL Class 3A champion that day in Penn-Trafford sophomore Amelia Williams in a match that should decide the Section 1 title. Franklin Regional is the defending champion.

After winning the Section 1-3A title in 2022, Franklin Regional graduated some key seniors. But the Panthers returned five lettermen who helped fuel that accomplishment.

Franklin Regional girls tennis coach Howard Fisher is excited about the team’s progress.

“We have a strong singles lineup,” Fisher said. “Michelle (Yan) has stepped up and I’m excited about the doubles teams.”

Yan has moved from second doubles to No. 2 singles, and Rachel Poltinnikov is in the No. 3 singles players.

“Our singles group is stronger than last year’s,” Fisher said. “And I’m excited about our first doubles team. We’re working on improving our second doubles team which is essential in the WPIAL playoffs. If you have a good second doubles team that can hold its own, you’ll be successful in a lot of matches.”

The first doubles team consists of junior captain Lucy Zheng and three-year letterman Makinzie Marcus.

“Our overall level of play is better,” Liu said. “I’m excited for the season and to battle Amelia.”

The four girls competing for the other doubles team are sophomore Anika Jadia, junior Ghania Malik, junior Katie Trautmann and sophomore Anna Beadle.

“I feel good about this team,” Fisher said. “We’re building around the five lettermen. Our only loss was to Hampton when I was experimenting with the lineup.”

Franklin Regional is 5-1 overall and 5-0 in the section. It has a first-place showdown ahead with Penn-Trafford.

“The overall level of the team has definitely improved,” Fisher said. “It’s exciting. We have a big match left with Penn-Trafford, which is very good.”

Zheng added: “We’ve worked hard all summer. We know people are coming after us and that motivates us. We want to win another section title.”

And Fisher said he feels the team has a chance to do well in the playoffs and win the section.

“I’m excited how the team has developed in the second half of the season,” Fisher said. “We have to stay focused on the prize.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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