Whenever he stepped on the court, Seymour junior Alex Berry knew he was facing the best member of the opposing team.

Playing at the No. 1 singles position, Berry often found himself playing state-ranked opponents inside and out of the Hoosier Hills Conference.

Following a turbulent start to the 2015 campaign, at 7-9, Berry notched five straight wins at No. 1 singles to lead the Owls to their first sectional championship since 2006.

With the team trailing 2-1 against Brownstown in the sectional, Berry, along with the No. 1 doubles team of Josiah Rudge and Grant Handloser, picked up points to secure the title.

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“I think that (Berry) played some big matches well,” Owls coach Brad Emerson said. “I think that was the key. The first Brownstown meeting, he won in three sets, and it flipped a switch on that he could win tight matches. The sectional is always competitive, and when you have that experience, knowing you can grind out a match, it sets a tone for the rest of the team — we can fight and stay in there. I think his play helped the confidence of the team.”

Berry’s efforts on the season earned an All-Hoosier Hills Conference Honorable Mention nod.

With all of his accomplishments in 2015, The Tribune has chosen Berry as the boys tennis player of the year.

Playing in the No. 1 spot, Berry said that his mental game always needed to stay in check since the opposition would have refined, consistent strokes paired with athleticism on the other side of the net.

“You can never get down on yourself; you’re playing the best player on the other team,” he said. “You just need to stay up and not get down on yourself. I like playing at No. 1 because I feel like I’m a leader on the team.

“I think I was playing my best at the end of the season. I was playing a lot more consistent. I started getting confident when I got some wins and played better.”

On the court, Berry said that his serving improved from last year along with his forehand.

Emerson said that Berry’s forehand developed into a weapon, especially on shots that fell short of the service line.

“He started doing a better job of putting away shots at the mid-court,” Emerson said. “He needs to continue working on that. His forehand developed into a weapon. I think that helped him a lot.”

While the Owls started the season at 2-6, the team made a postseason push and finished 10-11 after a loss to Columbus North in the regional.

“I think we started off a little slow this season,” Berry said. “Once we got our lineup together at the end of the season and got the nerves out we got some confidence.”

Heading into his senior year, Berry plans on playing in USTA tournaments throughout the state to get a better handle on his opponents for the season.

Emerson said that the tournaments will help Berry gain confidence.

“I just want to see him continue doing lessons and playing tournaments, that will be a big key in the offsesaon. The more tournaments he plays the better. We play a few tough teams on our schedule and those guys are state ranked. I want to see him competing with, and beating, those guys next year.

“I think that he’s going to start out strong against Scottsburg (in 2016). I want to see him get a win there and then compete well with Providence and win. If he can start out 2-0 that would be a great springboard before we play Jeffersonvile and New Albany.”

2015 All-County team

Joining Alex Berry on the All-County team:

Lute Lahrman, Brownstown Central, Senior

Accomplishments: 15-9 record at No. 1 singles, Brown County Invitational champion, All-Mid-Southern Conference, second-most wins in school history for a career

Cole Brock, Brownstown Central, Senior

Accomplishments: 14-10 record at No. 2 singles, All-Mid-Southern Conference honorable mention, Brown County Invitational Champion

Riley Carlin, Brownstown Central, senior

Accomplishments: 16-7 record at No.1 doubles, Brown County Invitational Champion

Sam Hoff, Brownstown Central, junior

Accomplishments: 16-7 record at No.1 doubles, Brown County Invitational Champion

Sy Zickler, Brownstown Central, junior

Accomplishments: 22 wins at No. 1 doubles (school season record), Brown County Invitational Champion

Ethan Carlin, Brownstown Central, freshman

Accomplishments: 22 wins at No. 1 doubles (school season record), Brown County Invitational Champion

Adam Berry, Seymour, freshman

Accomplishments: 11-11 record at No. 3 singles, 2015 Owls Most Improved

Josiah Rudge, Seymour, senior

Accomplishment: Helped clinch Seymour Sectional title at No. 1 doubles, Owls’ Coaches and mental attitude awards

Bailey Baker, Trinity Lutheran, sophomore

Accomplishment: Undefeated at Southern Conference Tournament

By the numbers

2015 Jackson County Boys Tennis Player of the Year

Alex Berrry//Seymour//Junior//No. 1 singles

Accomplishments: All-Hoosier Hills Conference Honorable Mention, 2015 team MVP, helped clinch 2015 Seymour Sectional title, 12-10 record at no. 1 singles

Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.