FRANKLIN, Wis. — Franklin, firsts and a freshman: It's more than alliteration. It's a story line the Sabers girls tennis team has used to make school history.
Firsts for Franklin, as the Sabers made team state for the first time.
"Our coaches always said since our freshman year that our goal should be by the end of the season to make it to team state," Carly Lehman said. "So we've always had that in the back of our minds all four years of high school tennis."
"It's a lot different than individual state, because our whole team's there and we have practices with our entire team all season," Madelyn Dziubek said. "So it's just cool that everyone got to be a part of it, not just individual people."
Usui was the first to win an individual title as a 14-year-old freshman who went 36-0 and didn't lose a set until the state semifinals.
"It was a lot of playing. A lot of drama, and it was a lot of matches," Usui said. "I just kept my mentality strong and I just knew that I wanted (to come) here to win."
Dziubek said she looks up to Usui.
"Even though she's only a freshman, I still look up to her and I feel like everyone on the team got to look up to someone who is really successful," Dziubek said.
Lehman echoed those comments.
"It's really inspiring because we've never even gotten, besides last year, anyone on the podium. So it's really cool to be able to be her teammate all year," Lehman said.
The duo of Lehman and Dziubek came in third, thanks to solid chemistry riding the highs and lows of doubles.
"You could see from the outside how we could get mad at each other at some points," Lehman said. "But we know that never works to our advantage. We know if any of us get mad, our job is to pick each other up."
Thanks to the seniors, the foundation is set for more team and individual success, and for freshmen like Usui.
"I'll just keep trying my best," Usui said. "I like playing tennis, so I'll just keep playing and do what I can."
The Sabers lost in the semifinals of team state. But with what they built, you figure they will be back.