DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
This is not your typical Center Grove High School boys tennis team.
The inexperienced Trojans won just their fourth match of the season by topping Greenwood 4-1 on Thursday in the Johnson County Boys Tennis Tournament semifinals at Center Grove.
The Trojans (4-5) will meet Franklin (6-4), a 3-2 winner against Whiteland, in the final at 4:30 p.m. today.
“I knew Greenwood was going to be a good team because I had seen how (the Woodmen) did when they played Whiteland before,” Trojans coach Ivan Smith said. “I knew Whiteland beat Franklin before, so I knew it was going to be a tough county. It will be a tough match (today). I’m glad we were able to fight through.
“Of the matches we’ve won, we’ve had to win tight matches, and I think that helped us (Thursday).”
The Trojans lost five seniors, including two all-state players, Conner Andersen and Cam Schoolcraft, from last season’s 19-4 team that reached the state team quarterfinals before losing to Carmel. Andersen and Schoolcraft were four-year starters.
Center Grove’s Peter Golder topped Jacob Gray 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.
“I was feeling pretty good about the match,” Golder said. “My serve was going really well. I felt like I could put the ball where I wanted to.”
Golder has moved from No. 3 singles last season to the top spot.
Trojans freshman Trey Thixton was able to outlast Greenwood’s Grant Bryant 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in the final match to be completed.
“(Trey) had to grind it out,” Smith said. “He really got nervous at the end of the second set, but he was able to fight those demons and take care of business in the third set.”
Smith said it’s tough to figure any keys against Franklin.
“We’re going to have to win three matches, I have no idea where it is. But that’s the way things are this year,” Smith said. “We’ll be all right in a couple of years, and we might be even be much stronger year next year, but that’s just part of the gig.
“We’ll take (wins) when we can get them.”
Franklin coach Rod Snyder was pleased in his team’s turnaround from the previous match against Whiteland.
“It was good to change a 4-1 regular-season loss last week to a 3-2 win,” Snyder said. “We won all three singles (Thursday night), and we had lost No. 2 and No. 3 singles in regular season.”
Brothers Jake Rockey, a junior, and Jonah Rockey, a sophomore, won at No. 2 and 3 singles, respectively.
“They came through with two big singles points.” Snyder said.
Their younger brother Josiah Rockey wasn’t so lucky, as he and Brett Blakley lost to Aaaron Scott and Adam Zietlow 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
Franklin junior Noah Roberts topped Whiteland senior Sam Venter 6-1, 6-3.
This will the Grizzly Cubs’ first meeting against Center Grove this season.
“(The Trojans) are in our sectional, so we’ll get a look at them. We’ll enjoy this one (Thursday night),” Snyder said.
Whiteland coach Mike Gillespie said he saw some things the team needs to work on.
“There were more positives than negatives (in the tournament),” Gillespie said. “We’ll move forward. Our biggest goal is our (Mid-State) conference tournament. Everything we do is working towards that.”
“I’m sure we’ll meeting Franklin again there in certain spots (in the flights) and they’re very, very good.”