Jacob and Ethan Gray had the 2017 boys tennis season circled in their minds a long time ago.
Now that their one opportunity to play on the same high school team has arrived, the brothers are expected to hold down the top two singles positions for Greenwood.
“I’ve really been looking forward to it,” said Jacob, a senior. “I expect Ethan to do great things for our team this year. It’s crazy for someone that young to be this good. He’s better than I was at this point.”
A strong statement considering Jacob was named to the Daily Journal’s All-County team as a junior and hasplayed No. 1 for the Woodmen the past three seasons.
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He’s expected to make it a fourth starting with the Aug. 17 opener at home against Columbus East — unless little brother moves to the front of the lineup.
“Jacob is bigger and stronger, but Ethan is more consistent than Jacob was at that age,” said first-year coach Jeremy Runge, a Woodmen assistant the past three seasons. “I personally love this competition-wise.
“This is something that will help the team because I believe they’ll push each other quite a bit this season.”
The brothers have no other siblings and are very close. They plan to savor every practice, match, road trip and tournament while cheering on their Woodmen teammates — and each other.
“We thought it would be a cool thing being on the same tennis team,” Ethan said. “I would gladly play on the same team with Jacob more than one year so that we can cheer each other on.”
Center Grove Trojans
Coach: Ivan Smith
Last year: Lost to Greenwood in Center Grove Sectional semifinal
Who’s back: Eli Lawyer-Smith, senior; Nic Ballesteros, Mitch Runkel and Trey Thixton, juniors; Grant Herron and Mason Runkel, sophomores
Who’s gone: Akul Vijayvargiya
New kids on the block: J.T. Embrey, junior; Landen Finlinson and Dhrumil Patel, freshmen
Outlook: Six of seven starters return for the Trojans, including Thixton, the team’s top singles player and an All-County pick a year ago. Smith, who is entering his 41st season as coach, has guided the program to 29 sectional championships — tied with Carmel for ninth all-time in Indiana. He knows mere numbers aren’t going to get it done. “I think our skill set is better,” he said. “The big thing is if we can learn how to win.”
Coach: Pete Khensouri
Last year: Lost to Columbus North in Columbus North Sectional semifinal
Who’s back: Ryan Gaston and Gavin Hancock, seniors; Coltan Henderson, junior; Brayden McManaway, sophomore
Who’s gone: Keegan Jones, Tommy Snider
New kids on the block: Jacob Atha, Parker Bryant and Gabe Wilson, seniors; Bryce Burton, junior
Outlook: Along with the return of two of last season’s top three singles players (Coltan Henderson and Gavin Hancock), the Lancers benefit from the addition of three former Edinburgh football players in Atha, Bryant and Burton. “I am excited about this group,” Khensouri said. “I like the chemistry we have. It’s a group of kids that gets along well and everything is positive.”
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
Coach: Rodney Snyder
Last year: Won sectional and regional; lost to Park Tudor at Center Grove Semistate
Who’s back: Andy Bennett, Ethan Klem, Jonah Rockey and Logan Snyder, seniors; Josiah Rockey, junior
Who’s gone: Jacob Rockey and Noah Roberts
New kids on the block: Corbin Burton and Russell Chain, seniors
Outlook: The Grizzly Cubs are coming off a historic season in which the program secured sectional and regional titles for the first time. Duplicating such success will be difficult, yet the cupboard is anything but empty. Look for Jonah Rockey and Logan Snyder to compete for the No. 1 singles spot. Jonah Rockey made the Daily Journal All-County Team a year ago, as did the doubles tandem of Klem and Josiah Rockey. “I’m looking for a lot of dual-match wins,” coach Snyder said. “Obviously we want to compete for county and conference titles and see where we are at that point.”
Coach: Jeremy Runge
Last year: Lost to Franklin in Center Grove Sectional final
Who’s back: Jacob Gray and Grant Bryant, seniors; Jacob Rothaar, junior; Ben Sobieray, sophomore
Who’s gone: Alex Walsh, Jack O’Reilly
New kids on the block: Nick Belovic, Charlie Brooks, Thomas Burtt and Ethan Gray, freshmen
Outlook: Jacob Gray, the Woodmen No. 1 singles player the past three seasons, returns, as does Grant Bryant, who played No. 3 singles last fall. Freshman Ethan Gray is expected to hold down one of the top singles positions. “I see a lot of potential,” Runge said. “We’re going to be young at spots, but I’m hopeful that our talent trumps the growing pains.”
Indian Creek Braves
Coach: Dave Broshears
Last year: Lost to Franklin in Center Grove Sectional semifinal
Who’s back: Scott Russell, senior; Brett Conner and Cody Hart, juniors
Who’s gone: Dalton Campbell, Cole Harris, Bryce Waddell and Trace Zachery
New kid on the block: Jake Mitchell, freshman
Outlook: With only two starters back, anticipate senior Scott Russell moving from No. 1 doubles to No. 1 singles this season. Fourth-year coach Broshears looks for freshman Jake Mitchell to vie for one of the other two singles spots. “It will definitely be one of those rebuilding years,” Broshears said. “We’ll have a lot of new people playing.”
Coach: Mike Gillespie
Last year: Lost to Greenwood in first round of Center Grove Sectional
Who’s back: Caleb Scott, senior; Corey Ullrich, junior; Mason Laugle and Garrison Pelfree, sophomores
Who’s gone: Andrew DeLuca, Ricardo Gonzalez, Adam Zietlow
New kids on the block: Ravi Mann, Eric Robinson and Noah Thompson, seniors; Wesley Hawk, Lane Stephenson and Kyle Zajac, sophomores
Outlook: Four returning lettermen — three of whom underclassmen — give the Warriors a sturdy foundation for this season. “The team has a lot of depth and potential. The incoming freshmen bring a lot of athleticism and experience to the team and they will no doubt be pushing for varsity spots,” Gillespie said. “One thing is for sure, the team will continue to compete, play well, and most importantly, have fun.”