Tennis player takes top spot for team

Alex Berry knows that every time he goes on a tennis court for a match he is going to have to give 100 percent.

The reason: the Seymour senior has that outlook is because he will be facing the No. 1 player from the other school.

Berry is in his third season playing No. 1 singles for the Owls. He played No. 3 singles his freshman year.

“There was definitely a different style of play because my freshman year, normally No. 1 and No. 2 singles hit together (in practice), No. 1 doubles hit together so I would normally hit with the top junior varsity player,” Berry said.

“When I stepped up to No. 1 singles, there was a huge difference. I was playing kids Alex Craig’s level that I was not used to at all. The serves got harder, the ground strokes got harder, everything got harder. The big difference there was the speed of the ball.”

Berry said he is going to use the experience of playing No. 1 singles the past two years to his advantage this fall.

“The experience has helped a lot, and then during the offseason playing in those (four) USTA tournaments helped a lot, too,” he said. “My reactions have gotten better. I’ve got used to those kinds of serves, so they’re not out of the ordinary any more. They’re more common and stuff like that, so I’m more ready.”

A lot of the opponents he faced in the summer tournaments were from the Indianapolis area and northern Indiana.

The senior said he feels most comfortable when he can play to his strengths.

“I like baseline, I like my forehand and I like my groundstrokes,” Berry said. “My grandma (Carolyn Redmond) is always preaching ‘get to the net.’ She would like me at the net, but I like playing back at the baseline better.

“Some kids that don’t have as much heavy topspin (he can move up) because if they have topspin they normally keep you back, you really don’t have a choice. But if they have more of a flat ball, and hit a lot of slices it gives you an opportunity to come in more.”

Berry said he takes warmups seriously.

“You can learn pretty much everything about them during the warmups,” he said. “You want to see how they hit their forehand and if they can hit your shots back. Since my forehead is my strongest, I would hit my forehand to what I think is their weakest side and see how they can handle it.

“When you do volleys, overheads and serves you see about everything in the warm-ups that you need to know that you can play throughout the match.”

In matches, Berry said he knows the importance to a strong start.

“Tennis is a big mental game, so if you go down in that first set you’re already thinking ‘Oh, gosh, I’m going to be tired. If I’m going to win this match I’m going to have to go a third set,’” Berry said. “So that’s why if you start off good and take down their mental game you have the advantage.”

Tennis is a family sport for the Berrys.

Alex’s younger brother, Adam, is a member of the team.

“We come out with my mom and grandma and have a little family doubles, or we’ll play singles, and my grandma will drill us and stuff like that,” Alex said. “It’s fun having my grandma as an assistant coach. Even when we’re at home she’s still saying things like a coach that you need to do this, this and this.

“She’s been pushing me since I’ve been old enough to walk to play tennis.”

He said in his early years he wanted to play other sports, and he began taking tennis seriously in seventh grade.”

Berry said for the Owls to have a winning season, “I think it’s going to come down to consistency. We have a good schedule. Our schedule plays really tough.”

He plans on playing tennis for as long as he can.

“I like the challenge of the game,” Berry said. “It’s just relaxing. People can play (throughout life). It’s a lifelong game, and I just like being out there.”

At a glance

Name: Alex Berry

School: Seymour High School

Parents: Todd and Debbie

Sibling: Adam

Sports: tennis 4 years

Athletic highlights: 2015 sectional champions, 2015 MVP, 2014 most improved, 2013 mental attitude.

Organizations: National Honor Society

Plans after high school: attend college, play tennis

Favorite food: pizza

Favorite TV show: Prison Break

Favorite singer: Logic

Favorite movie: The Benchwarmers

Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts