By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — LAPEL — Two of the biggest rivals in Madison County opened up the boys tennis county tournament, and it was Frankton who walked off the Lapel courts with the 4-1 victory.
The Bulldogs’ Garrett Fensler made quick work of Lucas Bolt to give Lapel (3-1) a 1-0 lead to start the match, but it was all Frankton (5-0) after that.
At No. 1 doubles, Blaine Reed and Cameron Bates for the Eagles struggled a bit in their first set against Lapel's Daulton Fensler and Samuel Parkison, but the Frankton duo was able to hang on for a 7-5 win.
Reed and Bates breezed through the second set 6-1 for a victory that tied the match at 1-1.
No. 2 doubles Jeff Biddle and Brady Ashton for the Eagles had a much easier time as they knocked off Lapel’s Ridge Abraham and Caleb Hanes 6-2, 6-1 to give Frankton a 2-1 lead.
Frankton’s Aaron Korn, at No. 2 singles, solidified the win for his team with a straight set (6-2, 6-3) victory over Daniel Conrad, and Conner Bates took at 6-4, 6-2 decision from Chase Kimmerling to give Frankton the 4-1 win.
Eagles coach Brett Sanders said he did a lot of pacing after Garrett Fensler knocked off Bolt at No. 1 singles, but he said he knew the rest of his players would work hard for a victory.
“I think I wore a brown spot in Lapel’s yard over there,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in my guys, I really do. They have a very strong mentality, they have a really hard work ethic and I know when it comes down to it, I tell you what, the guys I have out there on the court, I’m really, really comfortable with them out there.”
Sanders told his team before county tournament play it needed to trust that what it had done up to this point in the season would prepare it for tournament play.
“Like I told my guys, you have to just trust in your preparation, trust that we’ve done the right things in practice,” added the Eagles’ coach. “I tell them to be mentally calm but physically aggressive. As long as they keep their heads (in it) and they stay focused and give 110-percent, I tell you, we are successful whether we win or lose.”
Lapel coach Justin Coomer said he knew the Eagles were good and the match would be close, but he also knew Frankton was a tough opponent with good athletes.
“I figured it would be pretty tight,” he said. “I’d seen their scores, I knew they were good. They have athletes that can make a difference even if they’re not all tennis players. I knew they were going to be really good this year, and it would be a hard match, but I was glad — I thought it was a good match for us to see where we stack up.”
Frankton will face Anderson in Thursday’s semifinals, and the Bulldogs face Anderson Prep in the consolation bracket.