The Franklin County Boys Varsity Tennis Team faced many challenges this 2016 season. Last season, the tennis team managed to continue their recent success and take home their third sectional championship in a row. Coming into the year, the Wildcats had big expectations to live up to. Without losing any players from the previous season, FC was looking to improve upon their poor performance in regionals the previous three years and compete for a regional championship.
The start of the season did not go as planned for the Tennis Team. They began their season at the New Castle Invite which consisted of four teams. The first round went well for the Cats as the easily defeated the Northeastern Knights 5-0. However, the championship round was the beginning of many hard-fought losses. Following the first win of the season, Franklin County went on to lose four straight matches. This was not how the team wanted to begin their season.
Despite their subpar start, both the players and the coaches were able to keep their heads up and maintain confidence in themselves. Next on the schedule were two key matches for the Wildcats. Rushville being a sectional opponent and East Central as an important conference matchup. FC came out strong against Rushville looking to make a statement. They dominated the Lions showing that they were the strong favorites to win the sectional yet again. The Cats tried to build on their win over Rushville in the next match against East Central. Franklin County used that momentum to pull out a 3-2 victory over the Trojans.
Following the win against East Central, the tennis team took a hard blow. Unhappy of the way the season was going, the two seniors, Jahn Oetzel and Trevin Manderschied, decided to throw in the towel and quit the team. Trevin playing at #2 singles and Jahn at #2 doubles, Franklin County lost two of their key players on the team. This loss couldn’t have come at a worse time. Franklin County was getting ready to enter what seemed to be the toughest week on their schedule. The Wildcats had to battle the adversity faced before them and try to compete.
Just as the team had expected, FC faced a rough stretch. They began the week by falling to the Batesville Bulldogs 1-4. The Wildcats then traveled to Lincoln to lose 1-4 and were defeated by Greensburg 1-4 as well. These three losses brought the team to a lackluster record of 3-7. Things were not looking good for the FCHS Tennis Team.
It was only a matter of time before everything seemed to click for the Wildcats. Only a week had gone by before the two seniors came to the decision to make their return. After a team vote, Oetzel and Manderschied were put back on the team and placed at the #2 doubles position together. Their return seemed to build the confidence of their teammates and spark the team’s upcoming success. It seemed like a completely different team as the Cats went on to win four straight matches leading into the EIAC Conference Tournament.
Despite the unlucky draws given to Franklin County, they showed great promise throughout the entire tournament. All of the Cats played outstanding in the first round. Landon Bundy played an amazing match against Batesville’s Beau Brown but was not able to overcome his tough draw losing in straight sets. At #2 singles, Trevor Murray played amazing to take down Batesville’s Paul Ritter and advance into the semifinals. Dillon Lewis fell in a hard-fought match to the eventual conference champion at #3 singles. Both the #1 doubles team, consisting of Dylan Little and Braydon Ertel, and the #2 doubles team of Jahn Oetzel and Trevin Manderschied were able to pull off victories in straight sets as well.
On the second day of the tournament, Trevor Murray dominated his semifinal opponent, Trevor Foster of Greensburg. This win boosted his confidence to extreme measures as he went on to take down East Central’s Chase Lambrinides in the conference finals. The #1 doubles team of Dylan Little and Braydon Ertel annihilated Lawrenceburg and Batesville in the semifinals and finals respectively. They lost a total 11 games throughout their amazing championship run. At #2 doubles, Jahn Oetzel and Trevin Manderschied were unstoppable in their conference championship run defeating Connersville and Greensburg along the way. This gave the Wildcats their first Conference champion since 2008. It was also the first time in school history that FCHS had more than one champion in the same year.
Heading into Sectionals, the Cats seemed to be playing their highest level of tennis. The outstanding performances by Franklin County at Conference greatly boosted the confidence of the entire team. They drew the Rushville Lions in the first round. In their matchup earlier this year, the Wildcats dominated the Lions. The first round of Sectionals was no different. After quick victories at the #2 doubles and #2 singles positions, FC was the strong favorite to win the match. They ended the match with three more wins to sweep Rushville 5-0 and advance to the championship round against Connersville.
The Wildcats were pumped up and ready to go on the morning of the Sectional championship. Right from the start, the Wildcats had the upper hand. The first match completed was at #2 doubles. Oetzel and Manderschied defeated Connersille 6-0, 6-1 to give them the early lead. Shortly after Little and Ertel at #1 doubles and Trevor Murray at #2 singles both managed to pull out victories for Franklin County with scores of 6-1, 6-2. These two wins sealed the deal for the Cats as they took home yet another Sectional trophy. With the victory, FC completed its first 4-peat in school history.
The following week, the team would advance to the first round of Regionals to take on Batesville. Although losing to the Bulldogs 1-4 during the regular season, the Wildcats were determined to defeat their conference rivals. Despite losses at #1 singles and #3 singles, Trevor Murray and the #1 doubles team of Dylan Little and Braydon Ertel were able to take down their opponents and even the match at 2-2. The match was left up to the two seniors. Jahn and Trevin were able to win the first set 6-3, but could not keep the momentum. They fell to Batesville in three sets, bringing the team’s season to an end. However, due to being undefeated in the tournament, Little and Ertel were able to move on in the Individual Doubles Tournament.
All season long, Franklin County’s #1 doubles team proved themselves to be great. Little and Ertel won time and time again. Up to the Individual Doubles Tournament, they remained undefeated with an astounding 17-0 record. The Cats weren’t done yet either. Following their win over Batesville, they dominated New Castle’s #1 doubles team by a score of 6-1, 6-2, and were able to pull off a huge comeback against Centerville to win the Individual Sectional Championship. The following week Little and Ertel travelled to Fishers to compete in the Individual Regionals Round. Once again they managed to protect their undefeated record and take down Greenfield Central in three sets. This win advanced them to the championship round of Regionals, one win away from going to state. The championship match and their final match of the season..Little and Ertel could not overcome the firepower of Plainfield and fell for the first time all season 3-6, 1-6.
Although losing only two seniors, the Wildcats will be returning most of their team next season and will look to improve upon another successful year. Landon Bundy, Trevor Murray, and Dillon Lewis will all be returning next season, as well as Braydon Ertel and Dylan Little. All of them being juniors this year, they look to go out their senior seasons with a bang. The 2016 season for the Boys Tennis Team was full of many surprises, up and downs, and even a few broken records. The team showed outstanding improvement throughout the entire year, and will continue to grow in the future. The Wildcats current success shows great promise and is only the beginning for years to come.