Before he stepped onto the tennis courts at Seymour High School for the first time this fall, Alex Berry knew every single opponent he would face on the schedule.
The senior, entering his third year at No. 1 singles, had either played or seen each challenger over his tennis career — inside or out of the regular season.
With all his accomplishments this season, The Tribune has named Berry the 2016 Jackson County boys tennis Player of the Year for the second straight year.
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With countless matches under his belt, and a heightened sense of confidence, Berry attacked the 2016 campaign head-on.
Berry finished 11-4 in singles play and 1-1 at No. 1 doubles in a pair of Hoosier Hills Conference matchups.
In the HHC Tournament, Berry went 2-1 as the Owls placed 5th overall with their single loss coming to New Albany.
He also helped the team finish above .500 for the first time in years at 9-8.
“There was no question that Alex was our best option at No. 1 singles, he stood out above the rest of the team for the position,” Seymour coach Jennifer Miller said. “He had two prior years of playing that position after playing No. 3 singles his freshman year. It can be a very lonely place (at No. 1), mentally, to play and he was more than up for the challenge.”
Miller said Berry improved his game by spending countless hours working year-round.
“I really feel like Alex managing for the girls, starting his freshman year, has helped him put countless hours in on the court,” she said. “He’s had two seasons ever year: as a player and manager. He plays in tournaments in the off season. He has put so much time and effort into developing his game and it finally paid off this year.”
After his final match of his high school career, Berry earned an armful of postseason honors.
Berry was named All-Hoosier Hills Conference, All-District 8 and All-State Honorable Mention for singles, and team MVP.
“To standout in our district, unless you’re a dominant player playing in outside tournaments during the year, you’re not going to make it,” Miller said.
On top of that, Berry recently played on the Indiana Senior All-Star Southeast team in the annual North-South All-Star Event At DePauw University.
“I felt good about the season,” Berry said. “The team was really confident. We did finish positive (with wins-losses) this year, and we’ve never really done that. I really liked the team this year.”
Known for his consistency from the baseline, Berry wasn’t afraid to grind-out matches.
“I think my serve and forehand really improved this year,” Berry said. “I’ve always liked my forehand, but I still really worked on making it stronger.”
In the spring, Berry will enter his fourth year of managing the girls’ team.
Berry said he plans on joining the Franklin College men’s tennis team next year.
“I will miss the guys the most,” Berry said. “A lot of the guys were just friends that I invited to come try tennis. They got a lot better and made it to varsity. The practices and bus rides were fun. I feel like college is going to be a lot more professional than what we had here. I will miss having fun with them the most.”
2016 Jackson County boys tennis Player of The Year
Alex Berry, Seymour, Senior
Record: 11-4 singles at No. 1 singles, 1-1 at No. 1 doubles.
Honors: All-State Honorable mention singles, All-Hoosier Hills Conference, All-District 8 singles, Indiana Senior All-Star Southeast Team, team MVP, team captain award.
2016 All-County boys tennis team
Those joining Alex Berry on the All-County team include:
Sy Zickler, Brownstown Central, Senior
Record: 15-6 doubles.
Honors: All-Mid-Southern Conference, Bedford North Lawrence Individual Sectional Champion (No. 1 doubles), team co-MVP, school record for total wins in a career 70)
Sam Hoff, Brownstown Central, Senior
Record: 15-5 doubles.
Honors: All-MSC honorable mention, Bedford North Lawrence Individual Sectional Champion (No. 1 doubles), team co-MVP.
Ty McCory, Seymour, Junior
Record: 10-5 singles, 1-1 doubles.
Honors: All-HHC honorable mention.
Adam Berry, Seymour, Sophomore
Record: 15-2 singles.
Honors: school record 15-0 at No. 3 singles.
Grant Handloser, Seymour, Senior
Record: 6-8 doubles.
Honor: Academic-All State.
Luke Cobb, Brownstown Central, senior
Record: 5-14 singles.
Honor: Academic All-State.
All-County Honorable Mention
Ethan Carlin, Brownstown Central, Sophomore
Ethan Wischmeier, Brownstown Central, Sophomore
Jonathan Keith, Trinity Lutheran, Senior
Johnny Rennekamp Seymour, Senior
Gunnar Zickler, Brownstown Central, Sophomore
Jackson Lahrman, Brownstown Central, Sophomore