For The Tribune
Seymour boys tennis coach Brad Emerson agrees with the members of the team in selecting player Alex Berry as most valuable player, and said he showed definite improvement as the season progressed.
“He was usually 6 to 12 inches shorter than his opponent,” Emerson said of his No. 1 singles player. “He started coming into his own after his big win over Brownstown in the regular season. He became more consistent in keeping points going.”
Berry, who also was named Hoosier Hills all-conference honorable mention, had a record of 12-10 this fall.
Berry received his honor during an awards program Sunday night in the school cafeteria.
Also receiving special honors were Adam Berry, Josiah Rudge, Hao Li, Tanner Johnson and Jonathon Valasquez.
Freshman Adam Berry received the most improved award. He played the No. 3 singles position throughout the season.
“I’m glad (Adam) came out for tennis,” Emerson said. “It was a rough start for him learning how to play against varsity opponents. I admired his attitude. He never gave in to opponents.”
Rudge received the coaches and mental attitude awards, and was the only senior to receive a four-year award.
“He was very deserving of the mental attitude award,” Emerson said. “He was even keel on the court. Sometimes I was hoping he would get more keyed up. He was a quiet leader and extremely bright.”
Rudge and Li were named Academic All-State.
Emerson said Rudge and Li rank in the top three academically in the senior class.
Johnson was named the most valuable, and Valasquez the most improved, on the junior varsity.
Emerson held up the sectional trophy and said, “This is what it’s all about. I’m so proud of you guys accomplishing something that hadn’t been done since 2006.
“We had a rough start. We played some ranked teams at the start. We had a disappointing loss to Scottsburg in our opening match, but we righted the ship.
“The turning point was beating Brownstown. I was proud we could win a big match and not give points away.”
Emerson said beating Loogootee and Brown County in a tournament at Bedford late in the season gave the team a big lift going into the sectional.
“Our sectional was not the strongest round, but one of the most competitive around.”
The Owls edged Austin, then topped Brownstown Central 3-2 in the finals.
Emerson recalled the Brownstown match was played over two days because of the weather.
Brownstown won two of the three matches completed on the first day before the Owls won at no. 1 singles and no. 1 doubles on the second day for the win.
The Owls lost to Columbus North in the Bloomington Regional.
Senior members of the team were Johnson, Li, Rudge, Sam Voss and John Newton.
“It was a pleasure having the seniors on the team,” Emerson said. “They are outstanding students and athletes and they will be successful in life.”