Owls defeat Braves for second straight tennis sectional title


As a senior, Adam Berry knew his team needed him.

After falling behind 5-2 in the first set against Brownstown Central’s Ethan Carlin, Berry won eight games in a row, propelling him to a 7-5, 6-1 victory.

That was important because it gave Seymour the third point to secure a sectional championship.

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On its home courts Saturday, the Owls defeated Brownstown 4-1.

It’s Seymour’s third title in four years (2015, 2017 and 2018) and 10th overall in boys tennis.

“It’s a great feeling,” Berry said, smiling. “I was looking forward to winning sectional all year, my senior year. We’ve won three out of the four years, but senior year was most important. It means a lot.”

Berry said Carlin was playing well early in the first set, while he was making errors with his forehand.

Then the switch flipped in his favor.

“I just kept remembering confidence and it was my senior season. This could be my last match,” Berry said. “That just motivated me to strive and win.”

Owls coach Brad Emerson said Berry raising the level of his game made the difference.

“He was hitting the ball so short in the beginning of the match, and then he just started increasing his depth a little bit,” Emerson said. “Once he started doing that, then he could dictate the point a little bit better.”

Berry rallying with eight straight games didn’t surprise Emerson.

“That’s just Adam,” he said. “He has played players that are a lot better than he is, and he just stays his course, and he keeps the ball coming back, and he frustrates players. Once he kept the depth on his shots and got the ball back, then he just frustrates, and that’s what he does to his opponents.”

Seymour’s first point came when Trey Hohenstreiter defeated Brownstown’s Kelian East 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

“I can’t say enough about Trey this morning getting off of the court winning,” Emerson said. “We needed him, and I told him before the match that we really needed him, and he came through for us, so that’s a nice win for him. I’m real proud of him.”

The Owls took a 2-0 lead when Sam Schmidt and Andrew Levine captured a 6-2, 6-3 win against the Braves’ Max McClure and Reece Carlin at No. 2 doubles.

Schmidt and Levine built a 4-1 lead in winning the first set. McClure and Carlin won the first game of the second set and led until losing on serve to make it 3-3. The Owls then won the next three games.

“No. 2 doubles, they’ve really come through for us this year,” Emerson said. “Both doubles teams have, and that helps. They did it again today.”

After Berry’s win, Ethan Wischmeier gave Brownstown its lone point with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Seymour’s Isaac Hardin at No. 2 singles.

Wischmeier won back-to-back games in the first set to take a 4-3 lead and held on for the win. He then broke a 2-2 score in the second set by winning four of the next five games.

“He’s a gamer,” Braves coach Mitchell Taylor said of Wischmeier. “He goes out there, he finds ways to win and most of the time, he’s the one kid I don’t have to coach up much because he does a really good job of getting himself in the right position to win. I’m really proud of him because that’s our lone point today, but I feel like all of our guys played really well.”

At No. 1 doubles, Brownstown’s Gunnar Zickler and Jackson Lahrman built a 3-1 lead in the first set, but Seymour’s Brandon Hubbard and Will Reinhart broke serve on the next game and kept it within one point until Hubbard’s serving in the 12th game forced a tiebreaker.

Brownstown won the first point of the tiebreaker, but Seymour took the next four and went on to win 7-2.

Zickler and Lahrman rallied to win the second set 6-3, but Hubbard and Reinhart broke serve on the first game of the third set and didn’t let up in winning 6-2.

“I knew that Gunnar and Jackson were good players, and so are we,” Emerson said. “It was just a matter of who was going to make less mistakes, and in the end, we ended up making less mistakes.”

Taylor said it was tough for his senior duo knowing they were the last ones on the court and the Braves already had lost the match as a team.

“It can do things to them mentally,” Taylor said. “I feel like this group of seniors really deserved it. I’m proud of them. It didn’t work, and that’s life, but I’m really proud of these guys and the way that they played today.”

Brownstown finished the season with a 13-3 record and will say goodbye to five of the seven players who competed in the sectional.

“They’ve done a great job of just leading and setting their example for younger guys to come,” Taylor said of the seniors. “Going against Seymour again this year, I hope my young guys are learning and seeing what it takes to win a championship because I hope one day that we can get another sectional championship.”

Seymour (13-4) advances to Tuesday’s Bloomington North Regional, where the Owls will face Columbus North (11-3). The 14th-ranked Bull Dogs defeated Brown County 5-0 on Friday to win their own sectional.

“We’re going to definitely have to raise the level of our game to compete up there,” Emerson said. “Those kids don’t miss shots. Where we might dink a ball over or not get a clean shot and hit it short and get away with it, those kids don’t miss, so we’re going to have to definitely keep the depth on our shots and keep hitting the ball. We can’t get tentative. We’ve got to go after it.”

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