History likely won’t remember that the 703rd victory in Ivan Smith’s career as Center Grove boys tennis coach lasted over two hours.
The host Trojans downed Greenwood 4-1 in the semifinals of the annual Johnson County Boys Tennis Tournament on Wednesday to advance to this afternoon’s title match against defending champion Franklin.
Coach Rod Snyder’s Grizzly Cubs did their part with a 5-0 decision against Indian Creek in the other semifinal.
Smith knows Center Grove’s final tally against the Woodmen isn’t an accurate indicator of how close the teams are in terms of talent and drive.
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“I thought Greenwood at the end of last season was going to be a major obstacle for us,” Smith said. “I knew it would be very difficult. I’m hoping this is something we can build off of because they’re a good team, and we could’ve lost that match as easily as we won it.”
Holding a 2-1 lead on wins by No. 3 singles player J.T. Embrey and the No. 2 doubles team of Dhrumil Patel and Grant Herron, the Trojans had to wait for the deciding point.
The top doubles match between Center Grove’s pairing of Eli Lawyer-Smith and Mitch Runkle and Greenwood’s Jacob Rothaar and Ben Sobieray was a marathon, with the Trojans finally prevailing, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5.
“We knew Greenwood was a good team coming in and that every one of us was going to have to step up,” Lawyer-Smith said. “We were going to rely on each other and pick each other up.
“In our match, Rothaar was hitting some big returns, so we switched it up a little bit. We had to keep switching up our style and really got our aggressiveness up.”
Last off the courts were the No. 1 singles players – left-handers Trey Thixton of Center Grove and Greenwood’s Jacob Gray. In a match lasting 2 hours, 5 minutes, Thixton won, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.
In the other semifinal, Franklin didn’t look ahead, focused on the task at hand, and got the job done in reasonably quick fashion with all straight-set victories.
Seniors Jonah Rockey and Logan Snyder won their matches at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, while junior Josiah Rockey captured the other singles match. Andy Bennett and Corbin Burton won No. 1 doubles with Ethan Klem and Russell Chain picking up a point in the second doubles match.
Afterward, coach Snyder, who counts six seniors among his top seven players, talked about how much defending their county title of a year ago means to those in his program.
“That was the first time in 39 years we had won it. It had been a long time,” Snyder said. “This is big for us because we can compete with some of the top programs in this area. It’s nice to come out and get a chance to show what we have.”