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Trinkle trying to follow sister’s lead

June 9—CLARKSVILLE—Riley Trinkle will try to follow in her older sister’s footsteps this weekend.

The Providence freshman will compete in the singles tournament of the IHSAA State Finals beginning Friday morning.

Trinkle’s older sister, Halli, was the state champion as a junior in 2018 and was the runner-up as a senior in 2019.

“We jokingly talk about it every now and then, I say ‘Here comes the next state champ,'” Pioneers head coach Scott Gurgol said in April.

Trinkle, who is a perfect 21-0 this season, will face Mishawaka Marian sophomore Abigail Weaver (15-2) at 10 am Friday in a first-round match at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. If Trinkle wins, she’ll face Evansville Memorial senior Ellie Myers (23-0), who has signed with the University of Kentucky, at 2 pm that afternoon in a quarterfinal. The semifinals are scheduled for 10 am Saturday with the final slated for 2 pm The defending state champion, South Bend St. Joseph sophomore Molly Bellia, is on the opposite side of the bracket of Trinkle.

“I’ve talked to her about some of the other players,” Gurgol said. “Ella She knows all the top players in the state. They’ve either trained together, played some dubs together or bumped heads at tournaments, so ella she knows who’s out there.”

And they likely know about Trinkle, who is rated as a four-star recruit by the Tennis Recruiting Network.

“If she’s focused and wants to play well it’s some of the best high school tennis you’re going to see,” Gurgol said.

Fifteen-year-old Trinkle, who is six years younger than her older sister (who recently completed her junior season at the College of Charleston), began playing tennis around the age of 5. It didn’t take long before she was excelling.

“She’s actually a real natural athlete. I believe she played other sports in (elementary) school,” Gorgul said. “You can see it in her footwork de ella and her balance de ella, ella she’s just so smooth. She’s just very athletic. You put those really good strokes in de ella with the athleticism and it creates a beast.”

Gorgul used to describe Trinkle’s older sister the same way. Although, there are some slight differences in their games.

“Riley likes to go to the net more. Riley uses slice earlier than Halli did, but outside of that their strokes are nearly identical,” Gurgol said.

“I’d say she’s more aggressive than I am,” Riley Trinkle added. “I’m more all-around. I love coming to the net. I love slicing and drop shots. She doesn’t really come to the net, she’s more of a baseline-pounder who hits every single ball super-hard. I do that too, but not as much as she does.”

The younger Trinkle knows that comparisons between she and her sister are inevitable.

“I do, but I kind of have to tell myself that ‘You’re a human being, you can’t compare yourself to other people. Just try your best and see what you can accomplish,'” she said.

Ironically Trinkle wasn’t there to see her sister notch her biggest prep accomplishment — a 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-0 win over South Bend St. Joseph’s Madelyn Yergler in the state championship match June 9, 2018 at the Indianapolis Racquet Club.

“I was at a tournament,” she said. “But I saw all the pictures and videos of her, it looked really exciting. She was really happy, so I was happy for her.”

The sisters didn’t always get along when they were younger, though.

“We hated each other; we would always fight,” Trinkle recalled with a laugh. “But now we’re best friends and whenever she comes home we play all the time.”

Although score isn’t kept when the two hit the court together. For good reason.

“Whenever we play we just hit back and forth,” Trinkle said. “We don’t really play points, or sets, because I think both of us are afraid to lose to the other one. The competitiveness between us, I know that if we did play and I won, or she won, it would just end up awful.”

That competitiveness nearly got the better of Trinkle last year.

“I had a really bad tournament and that’s whenever I kind of changed my perspective for a little bit on tennis. I got burned out and I took a couple weeks off,” she recalled.

It wasn’t long, though, before she had a racket back in her hand.

“Whenever I did take a couple weeks off I was like, ‘This is just a game, it’s not my life. I’m not going to die if I don’t do good,'” Trinkle said. “So I just told myself, ‘Don’t get upset or don’t get overhyped about something because it’s just a game, just enjoy it.'”

That’s an attitude she’ll take with her into this weekend’s state finals.

“You just have to keep on playing and it’ll work out in the end, hopefully,” Trinkle said.

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