For the Daily Journal
With still more rain in the forecast for this weekend, the first round of the Center Grove boys tennis sectional was greeted with abundant sunshine Thursday.
Greenwood defeated county rival and defending sectional champion Whiteland 5-0.
It was the third time the Woodmen (9-5) turned back the Warriors (6-10) this season.
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With the win, Greenwood advances to the semifinals today to play county champion Franklin. Center Grove meets Indian Creek.
Playing a team three times is never easy, but Greenwood coach Justin Moran said you get a pretty good idea what your team is going to go up against.
“The first time we beat them was 3-2 and the second 4-1,” he said, “so coming in we thought it was going to be really close this match, so we knew we had to bring it.”
The Woodmen came in off a win last weekend in the Mid-State Conference tournament, upsetting three-time defending champ Franklin.
“It certainly brought confidence to our guys,” said Moran.
Greenwood got off to a fast start in the No. 1 singles match, with junior Jacob Gray retiring Whiteland junior Caleb Scott 6-0, 6-0. It was the fourth time this season the two have met, and each time Gray has prevailed.
Gray, who’s been at the No. 1 slot since his freshman year, admits he’s come a long way in his three years of varsity experience.
“Coming in during my freshmen year, playing seniors and juniors at one singles was kind of rough, but gaining experience through the summer clinics and just improving my game has really gotten me to the point where I am today,” Gray said.
Meanwhile, Jack O’Reilly, one of only two seniors in the Woodmen’s lineup, defeated Warriors freshman Garrison Pelfree 6-3, 6-2. At No. 3 singles, Greenwood’s Grant Bryant whizzed by freshman Mason Laugle in straight sets 6-0, 6-1.
The best match of the night, one that took nearly two hours to complete, came at No. 1 doubles.
Greenwood senior Alex Walsh combined with sophomore Jacob Rothaar to outlast senior Adam Zietlow and sophomore Corey Ulrich 7-6 (9-7), 6-1.
And in the No. 2 doubles match, junior Eric Moenkhaus and freshman Ben Sobieray defeated junior Austin Taylor and sophomore Nolan Lee 6-4, 6-4.
Despite the loss, Whiteland coach Mike Gillespie applauded his young team’s effort.
“From the beginning of the season to the end, it’s been about inexperience,” he said. “It may not look like it on our record, but we got a lot better and we’re going to continue to get better.”