INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Franklin College's women's tennis team capped off the season in impressive fashion, claiming the school's first Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship since 2002 on Sunday afternoon. The Grizzlies earned the top seed after completing the regular season with an 8-0 mark against league competition.
Franklin earned a 5-1 win over Anderson before knocking off No. 2 seed Rose-Hulman 5-3 to earn the championship and the conference's automatic qualifier for the Division III NCAA tournament. It will be the first appearance in the NCAA field for the Grizzlies women's tennis program.
In Sunday's championship match with Rose-Hulman, the Grizzlies posted a 5-3 victory at West Indy Racquet Club. Franklin earned wins at two doubles positions. Melissa Sanders (Columbus, Ind.) and Adrian Gillaspy (Spencer, Ind.) knocked off Marie Stettler (Edgerton, Wis.) and Melissa Montgomery (Alexandria, Ind.) of Rose-Hulman at No. 1 doubles 8-4. Rain Tuley (Edinburgh, Ind.) teamed with Chelsea Howell (West Harrison, Ind.) to notch a 9-8 win at No. 3 doubles over Lauren Reberger (Brazil, Ind.) and Kylie McCollum (Lee's Summit, Mo.).
In singles play, Franklin earned wins at No. 2, No. 3, and No. 5 singles. Sanders collected a win at No. 2 singles over Suzana Mohd (Puchong, Malaysia) 6-1, 5-7, 6-3, Bethany Harris (Avon, Ind.) handed Montgomery a defeat at No. 3 singles 6-4, 6-3, and Tuley clinched the tournament title with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) win at No. 5 singles over Lauren Miller (Highland, Ill.).
Rose-Hulman's victories came at No. 2 doubles and No. 1 and 4 singles. Koharuko Fujita (Ishikawa, Japan) teamed with Paige Cook (Terre Haute, Ind.) to knock off Heather Pasek (Villa Hills, Ky.) and Bethany Harris 8-3 at No. 2 doubles. Stettler defeated Pasek at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-4, while Cook handled Gillaspy 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 singles.
With claiming the tournament title, Franklin has earned the conference's automatic bid to play in the NCAA Division III tennis championships this spring.