Seymour boys tennis is 12-1 and they’re not satisfied just yet.
The Owls are off to one of their best starts in team history as they reach the midpoint of the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament and are looking for some hardware to stick in the trophy case at Seymour High School.
A win over Jeffersonville on Wednesday would not only avenge the Owls’ lone loss of the year, but put them back in the conference final for the second consecutive year.
The Red Devils defeated Seymour earlier this month, 3-2.
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“We want to be back there in that position and we know we can get there,” senior Isaac Hardin said.
Hardin is one of several seniors on this year’s edition of the team and he was told, long before the season ever started, he’s was going to have a big leadership role.
It’s a role he’s had to adapt and grow into.
"It’s changed a lot knowing what I have to do and what I have to do for this team,” Hardin said of his role on the team.
He explains he upped his game and his leadership skills over the summer in preparation for becoming the team’s leader on and off the court. He also credits those players that came before for helping him know what it takes to lead a team.
Yet, spending the last four years with this current crop of players has made being a leader a little easier than he thought even in the face of the extreme Indiana heat this year.
“I would say it’s the bond that we have," he said. "We’ve been together for four years and we just know how each other works.
"Our games and everything, we just pour a lot of confidence into each other and we pick each other up when we’re having a tough time. This heat makes it’s especially hard but we push through it.”
Owls coach Brad Emerson points to Hardin’s leadership as one of the reason’s his group has the record they do and are in the position they’re in.
However, their athleticism and their depth have also played a integral part this year to their success. That and all of the tennis key members of his team play outside of the high school season.
“I would say, overall, this is probably one of the better athletic groups we’ve had," Emerson said. “It’s also the fact that a lot of these kids have played tennis for quite a while. Some have done clinics and others have played in tournaments and that’s really key."
One of the biggest things his players have learned playing in tournaments is how to compete in pressure situations. According to Emerson, that’s one of the toughest things to get his kids to learn how to do. He says the kids who jump into tennis just for the high school season don’t know how to deal with high-pressure points early on in the year.
Depth was something the Owls were always going to have entering the year, but it was made stronger when foreign exchange student Vincent Camboulas joined the fray.
Yet, after challenge matches, him joining the team ended up pushing Hardin to the second singles spot.
The demotion of sorts didn’t hurt Hardin’s morale, however. In fact he was glad to have another good tennis player join the team.
“We’re thankful for him," Hardin said. "We heard there were a few foreign exchange students coming over and we were just hoping that one of them would be good. Over the last couple of years, we’ve had some foreign exchange students come in and they’ve been pretty good.”
Camboulas has played at the No. 1 singles spot all year and has just one loss on his resume. At one point in the season, he and Hardin joined forces at No. 1 doubles.
The tandem swept their opponent in straight sets and didn’t surrender a game in the process.
Hardin said the doubles matches are a lot of fun and do wonders when preparing for singles play.
Fun is something the Owls are having a lot of now while the wins keep flowing, but they know they’ll need to continue to up their game if they want to make a deep postseason run. Emerson said everyone is going to have to up their game and pointed specifically to Camboulas sticking it out longer in points instead of trying to overpower opponents early.
“We’re competitive, we’re right up there with the exception of maybe Floyd Central," Emerson said. "They were ranked third as of a couple of weeks ago but they beat North Central. We gave them a run for their money at the Silver Creek Tournament.”
A Wednesday win would, more than likely, pit the Owls up with the No. 3 Highlanders for the league title.