TWICE AS NICE

Seymour’s Tanner Johnson said he had a lot of friends who were members of the Seymour tennis team, so he decided to try out his sophomore year.

“All the guys on the team made it really fun, and coach Brad (Emerson) is a really good guy,” Johnson said. “I played a lot with friends in the offseason.”

During the season, the Owls faced a tough schedule in a talented Hoosier Hills Conference.

“Playing that hard of competition really made me work on my weaknesses because those kids really expose your weakness,” Johnson said. “My sophomore year I wasn’t very good. My junior year I started to get better and I played at the top of the JV, and I played a lot over this summer and got better.”

Johnson played No. 2 doubles throughout the fall, his preferred role.

“John (Newton) was a really good guy to play (doubles) with,” Johnson said. “We both tried to get to the net as much as we could. When we were both at the net that is when we played our best.”

Johnson, who is left-handed said, “I prefer the forehand side, which would be the left side. My backhand was average.

“Serving was probably the best part of my game, that and the net game. It’s pretty important to get the first serve in in high school.”

On the court, Johnson said he felt like he and Newton did a good job of communicating.

“In doubles, communication is really important because if someone gets lobbed at the net and it goes to the opposite corner, you switch with your partner, switch sides of the court,” Johnson said. “If the ball is in the middle you have to call the ball out who is going to hit it because you both don’t want to be swinging at the same time.

In many of his matches, Johnson played the underdog role.

“In a lot of our matches we actually lost the first set and came back and won the second,” Johnson said. “We would have been a lot better off if we would have won the first one. I think we had two or three three-set tie-breakers.”

He said getting tips from Emerson during cross-overs (between games) and sets was useful.

“(Emerson) was really good at keeping our heads on straight,” Johnson said. “He told us to stay in it and not get down on ourselves, and make sure we were keeping our form and not go crazy with it.”

Prior to the start of a match, Johnson keyed-in on his opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.

“John and I really didn’t go hard in the warmups,” Johnson said. “What we focused on was which of the two were the weaker opponent, and we tried to focus on him as much as we could, and always tried to hit to his backhand side, and attack the net of course.”

Johnson said he feels like tennis is as much physical as it is mental at times.

“It’s really important to keep your mind in the game,” Johnson said. “Tennis, more than most sports, is more mental than physical. If you get down on yourself you’ll start hitting really bad.”

In his senior season, Johnson was able to hoist a sectional championship trophy as his team defeated Brownstown Central 3-2 in the finals.

“Winning sectional was really nice,” Johnson said. “It was enjoyable and a really good thing to be part of.”

Q&A

Q: Where was your favorite away courts?

FAVORITE AWAY COURTS: “The best was probably Bedford because at Bedford the bottom five courts are down here, and they have five more up on a hill and it’s kind of cool how it is set up.”

Q: What is your career higlight playing tennis?

“We were about to lose our first set to Edinburgh. We were down 5-2 and came back to win five straight to win that set 7-5, and we went on to win the next set 6-2. We were down 5-2 and we won 11 of the next 13 games to get the win.”

Q: Have you enjoyed your time at SHS?

A: “It’s a great place to go to school. I really like it. I’m in three AP courses this year and I was in a couple last year. My friends were the reason I joined the team, and I made plenty more while I was on the team. The bonding on the team made me feel at home.”

At a glance

Parents: Derek and Connie Johnson

Sibling: Logan, Jesse, Jordan

Sports: tennis 3 years

Athletic honors: tennis sectional champions 2015

Organizations: National Honor Society

Future plans: attend Indiana University

Favorite food: cake

Favorite TV show: “The Office”

Favorite musicians: “Third Eye Blind”

Favorite movie: “Happy Gilmore”

Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys

Author photo
Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.