Braves celebrate 2022 tennis season

Coach Donnie Thomas describes Pierson Wheeler as a tennis player who grinds it out.

“He digs down deep, he’s very competitive and he doesn’t like to lose,” Thomas said.

Wheeler played No. 2 singles for the Brownstown Central boys tennis team, where he compiled an outstanding record of 16-1.

Thomas said, “If Pierson hadn’t missed some matches for being sick and missed the Scottsburg tourney because of a wedding he was in, he could probably have been 20-1.”

His loss came against Jennings County in the Braves’ opening match of the season.

Wheeler was named to the all-Mid-Southern Conference team and was named the Braves’ most valuable player during an awards program Tuesday night in the BCHS cafeteria.

Wheeler said a lot of the opponents he played this fall had the same skills as him.

“My stamina was better than theirs,” he listed as the reason he had the outstanding record.

He said he feels like his forehand is pretty strong.

“I like to charge the net and smash it,” he said. “I worked a lot on my forehand, and I think my forehand is pretty good. I also won a lot of points with my backhand.”

When he serves, the ball has a slice.

“I’ve worked on a slice with my backhand,” he said.

The sophomore, who also plays basketball and baseball for the Braves, said he enjoys playing singles.

“I played doubles in middle school, but I like singles. I like having the game in my own hands,” he said.

Smith Hackman, who played No. 1 singles, was named the winner of the mental attitude award, and Lane Steward was the recipient of the most improved award.

“Smith and Lane are competitors, but they don’t have the same temperament as Pierson,” Thomas said. “Lane was pretty solid between playing No. 2 and No. 3. He was very annoying for a lot of his opponents. Smith played a lot of good opponents and did a good job.”

Hackman and Steward also are sophomores. Hackman played No. 1 all season and was 6-16 overall, and Steward was 13-3 at No. 3 singles, 0-1 at No. 2 singles and 3-2 at No. 1 doubles.

Hackman also was named to the all-MSC first team, and Steward was named honorable mention.

The Braves were 6-2 in the Mid-Southern and placed third, one position higher than they placed last year.

“We beat Scottsburg, which we didn’t do last year,” Thomas said.

The Braves won the Brown County Invite for the third straight year and placed fourth out of eight teams in the Scottsburg Invite.

The Braves were 9-8 overall, and Thomas said, “We had a little glitch in our season. If we had Pierson and Evan (Schneider) at the Scottsburg tourney, I think we could have finished third.”

Seniors who received varsity letters were Connor Gwin, Landon Hehman, Elix Preston and Bryce Reaser.

Hackman and Reaser received their letter jackets.

Gwin and Reaser won their match in the Seymour Sectional to advance to the next round at Bloomington.

Thomas gave the returning players special practice balls and encouraged them to use them during the offseason to improve their game.

“I hope everyone comes back,” Thomas said to the six sophomores and three freshmen.