Franklin Regional tennis has plenty to celebrate, even after WPIAL semifinal loss

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Saturday, May 14, 2022 | 11:01 AM


It wasn’t the ending Franklin Regional boys tennis coach Howard Fisher had envisioned, but the veteran coach of 43 seasons was still proud of the season.

The Panthers, seeded No. 1 in the Class 3A tournament, dropped a 3-2 decision to Shady Side Academy in the semifinals after jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Shady Side Academy defeated Franklin Regional, 3-2, in the 2021 finals.

“We just didn’t finish,” Fisher said. “We had a couple opportunities.

“On paper, we had the team to beat. But there were six teams in the tournament that could have won. I was not surprised that Fox Chapel won it.”

The Foxes defeated Shady Side Academy, 5-0, in the finals.

“We were disappointed, obviously,” Fisher said. “But we played some good teams throughout the playoffs. I have to give the teams credit. I’m happy with the way things turned out. Last year’s doubles team took third. Looking forward to Hershey to see how Dhruv (Kulkarni) and Prerit (Yadav) do (in the state doubles tournament).”

The Panthers graduate five players including four seniors.

Senior Andrew Allen, who plans to attend Mt. St. Marys, is the only senior to indicate to Fisher that he plans to play in college.

“We were privileged and we gained a lot of experience,” Fisher said after the team finished 17-2 overall and 7-0 in Section 1.

“We have to replace four starters to keep us competitive,” Fisher said. “I have a young team. There are a lot of juniors and sophomores ready to step in. We also have some nice eighth graders that could contribute. Even though we fell short of our goal, we gained experience.”

Returning are juniors Aaron Allen, who played No. 2 singles, and juniors Aditya Arkalgud and Josh Selvakumar, who split No. 3 singles. Kulkarni, a sophomore, also is back.

“I have a solid group back that have two years of experience,” Fisher said. “It’s looking good for next year.”

Andrew Allen advanced to the semifinals and ended up fourth in the WPIAL singles tournament, while the team of Kulkarni and Yadav fell in the finals and the other doubles team of Andrew and Aaron Allen finished third in WPIAL doubles.

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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