Seymour tennis future bright

Mask-protected at their recent post-season ceremony, Seymour's tennis players pose with their recognition awards. Submitted photo
Mask-protected at their recent post-season ceremony, Seymour’s tennis players pose with their recognition awards.
Submitted photo

The longer they played, the better they got. The more coach Sharon Wood tinkered with the lineup, the more hidden talents surfaced at singles and doubles.

There was a vague resemblance between the Seymour tennis team at the start of the season and at the end of the season, beyond sharing the nickname Owls. But the major difference was the level of play. What began down here ended up there.

If the Owls were a musical recording on the charts, the arrow would be pointing at the sky. Doubles tandem Brandon Hubbard and Andrew Levine ended the 2020 season playing for the sectional title in their specialty.

Abruptly, there was no more tennis to play this season when the team was starting to think it would be content if the season went on until Christmas.

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“It hasn’t hit me yet,” said Hubbard, a senior whose career is over. “I do wish we were still playing.”

Hubbard was reflective at the team’s awards ceremony banquet at the Knights of Columbus as he and teammates were recognized for their achievements.

Hubbard, Levine and Eli Meyer shared the award as varsity doubles players of the year. Hunter Heckman was named varsity singles player of the year. Brady Horton received the mental attitude award, and Joe Schmidt was named most improved varsity player.

Heckman, Hubbard and Levine were honorable mention Hoosier Hills Conference selections by vote of the league coaches.

Wood, who did not take over the team until shortly before the season began in August, had not seen the Owls play, and she experimented with the lineup to beef up its overall strength.

“I am proud of these guys because in the beginning of the season, many of them did not believe in themselves,” she said at the ceremony. “When we reset our focus to work hard and redefine success, we started to see personal growth on and off the court.”

This team grew up on the court, an intangible that became a tangible even if the overall record read just 7-14, one that recognized its potential and now knows it should be much better next year.

“I feel we got a lot better from the beginning of the season,” Heckman said.

Just a sophomore, he fulfilled a long-held ambition being slotted into No. 1 singles, a signal of faith in his ability from the coach.

“I was kind of nervous,” Heckman said. “I always wanted to play No. 1 singles. I think I gained the confidence I need to play one next year.”

Meyer began the season as a singles player but shifted to doubles, which was a new experience for him.

“It was a pretty big adjustment,” Meyer said. “I never had to rely on a partner in tennis. I think we’re definitely going to be better next year at every position.”

Top JV player Jack VonDielingen, 15-1, should move up.

Some teams caught Seymour coming and going. In the first go-around, those clubs may have trounced the Owls. But the second time around, Seymour’s revamped lineup pulled surprises, upending the same teams that may have taken them for granted early.

Wood analyzed the close calls, losses by a single point, turning points based on one volley. The dissection showed how the Owls were one of those teams just a few inches away from a winning record, how so often a single play or single stretch shoved a result into the L column. Seymour lost five matches 3-2.

“One point could have turned it around against Providence, Silver Creek, New Albany, Brownstown and Austin,” Wood said. “Sixteen times we won or lost a tiebreak or third set that could have changed the impact of the match.”

Those hints of grander success seem to inspire returning players. Several plan to ramp up involvement in clinics, playing indoor tennis over the winter and competing in area amateur tournaments to hone specific skills, whether it be a backhand or a serve.

“We had a pretty young team,” said Schmidt, who said he has previously played at Tipton Lakes Athletic Club in Columbus.

Wood said Tipton offers a sophisticated program with high-level instructors and can give her guys a boost in the offseason.

“Just in general, we want them to play more tennis,” Wood said.

Then come back as true believers in their game and play more winning tennis for Seymour.

Lew Freedman is the Sports Editor for The Tribune. Send comments to lfreedman@

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