County tennis rivals reconvene, seek sectional crown

Minus Edinburgh, which is headed south to play at Columbus North, this week’s boys tennis sectional at Center Grove essentially will be a second Johnson County tournament — but will the results be the same?

Franklin won the county title earlier this month, edging Greenwood in the semifinals and taking down longtime nemesis Center Grove in the championship. That win ended the Trojans’ run of 26 consecutive county titles.

It was Greenwood, not Franklin, however, that just won the Mid-State Conference tournament. And while Center Grove has tradition and home-court advantage in its favor, it’s Whiteland that comes in as the defending sectional champion.

In other words, the title is anyone’s for the taking.

Here’s a team-by-team glance at the field heading into today’s opening round:

The traditional power

Center Grove Trojans

This season: 4-12 overall, third in Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference tournament, lost to Franklin 4-1 in Johnson County championship match; ranked 29th in state

Projected lineup

No. 1 singles: Trey Thixton

No. 2 singles: Nic Ballesteros

No. 3 singles: Mitch Runkle

No. 1 doubles: Eli Lawyer-Smith/Akul Vijayvargiya

No. 2 doubles: Grant Herron/Mason Runkle

Notable: By getting a first-round bye, Center Grove has already advanced deeper than it did last year, when it was beaten by Greenwood in its opening match.

The (slight) favorite

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

This season: 12-2 overall, 6-0 Mid-State Conference; won Johnson County championship, 2nd in Mid-State Conference tournament; ranked 3rd in District 5 and 25th in the state.

Projected lineup

No. 1 singles: Noah Roberts (16-1)

No. 2 singles: Jonah Rockey

No. 3 singles: Andy Bennett

No. 1 doubles: Jake Rockey/Logan Snyder

No. 2 doubles: Josiah Rockey/Ethan Klem (15-2)

Notable: The county championship the Grizzly Cubs won this year is their first in 39 years.

The dark horse

Greenwood Woodmen

This season: 8-5 overall, 5-1 Mid-State Conference; won Mid-State Conference tournament, lost to Franklin 3-2 in Johnson County semifinals; ranked eighth in district

Projected lineup

No. 1 singles: Jacob Gray

No. 2 singles: Jack O’Reilly

No. 3 singles: Grant Bryant

No. 1 doubles: Jacob Rothaar/Alex Walsh

No. 2 doubles: Eric Moenkhaus/Ben Sobieray

Notable: Greenwood’s win over Center Grove in last year’s sectional was its first since it was added to this grouping 12 years ago.

The spoiler

Indian Creek Braves

This season: 8-9 overall, 2-2 Western Indiana Conference (4th place); lost to Center Grove 5-0 in Johnson County semifinals

Projected lineup

No. 1 singles: Trace Zachery

No. 2 singles: Cole Harris

No. 3 singles: Dalton Campbell (12-5)

No. 1 doubles: Scott Russell/Bryce Waddell (12-5)

No. 2 doubles: Cody Hart/Jeremy Lee

Notable: The Braves will be looking to reach the sectional final for the first time since 2011.

The defending champ

Whiteland Warriors

This season: 6-9 overall; lost to Greenwood in opening round of Johnson County tournament

Projected lineup

No. 1 singles: Caleb Scott (9-7)

No. 2 singles: Garrison Pelfree (12-5)

No. 3 singles: Mason Laugle

No. 1 doubles: Corey Ullrich/Adam Zietlow

No. 2 doubles: Nolan Lee/Austin Taylor

Notable: The Warriors’ sectional triumph last year marked the first time since the current five-team alignment was set in 2004 that someone other than Center Grove won the title.

If you go

Center Grove Sectional


Greenwood vs. Whiteland, 4:30 p.m.


Indian Creek vs. Franklin, 4:30 p.m.

Center Grove vs. Greenwood-Whiteland winner, 4:30 p.m.


Championship match, 4:30 p.m.

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.