Earlier this season, Trey Thixton said that if he’s on his game, he believes he’s the best high school tennis player in Johnson County.

Over the course of the fall, the Center Grove junior proved it repeatedly.

Though the top four teams in the county (the Trojans, Franklin, Greenwood and Whiteland) were incredibly closely matched, particularly at the top of the lineup, Thixton managed to go unbeaten in both the county tournament and the sectional, leading Center Grove to team titles in both after a two-year drought.

For taking care of business against the rest of the area’s best, Thixton is the Daily Journal’s 2017 Player of the Year in boys tennis.

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Running the table locally wasn’t easy — fellow All-County selections Jacob Gray of Greenwood and Jonah Rockey of Franklin both pushed Thixton to three sets. But the Trojan standout was able to prevail each time.

“It definitely wasn’t easy,” Thixton said. “All of the guys gave me a pretty good run for my money. … I think it was really just being able to work hard and motivate myself that I need to do this for the team.”

Center Grove had come up on the short end in county and sectional play during Thixton’s first two seasons, something that didn’t sit well with a player who says he grew up watching Center Grove teams that regularly reached the state finals.

Thixton said that “there was definitely a lot of motivation” to get those championships back.

A self-described versatile player who believes he has “most of the shots that I need to be able to find a way to win,” Thixton led Center Grove back to the semistate round this year. The next step, he says, will be trying to make it back to state as a senior.

He’s ready to do his part, no matter how tough the opponent.

“If I can stay locked in and focused for the whole match and try to play well, I can give myself an opportunity to win,” he said.

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Trey Thixton’s accomplishments during the 2017 season

15 victories at No. 1 singles

5-0 vs. county opponents

Led Center Grove to county, sectional and regional championships

All-County team

The 2017 All-Johnson County team for boys tennis:

Singles

Quinten Gillespie, Whiteland freshman: Posted a 20-4 record at No. 1 singles in his debut season, leading the Warriors to a 16-5 mark. … Earned All-District recognition.

Ethan Gray, Greenwood freshman: Went 17-2 in his first varsity campaign, helping the Woodmen win the Mid-State Conference championship.

Jacob Gray, Greenwood senior: Posted a 15-5 record at No. 1 singles, with all of his losses coming against All-State players. … Made All-District and the All-State second team.

Jonah Rockey, Franklin senior: A repeat All-County pick, an All-District selection and one of 36 seniors in the state chosen as an Indiana All-Star.

Caleb Scott, Whiteland senior: The second player in school history to be picked as an Indiana All-Star. … Posted a 23-1 record as the Warriors’ No. 2 singles player.

Trey Thixton, Center Grove junior: Went unbeaten against county and sectional competition and won 15 matches overall. … An all-district pick and second-team All-State selection.

Doubles

Eli Lawyer-Smith, Center Grove senior, and Mitch Runkle, Center Grove junior: Posted a 16-11 record against a difficult schedule, earning All-District recognition and a spot on the All-State second team.

Jacob Rothaar, Greenwood junior, and Ben Sobieray, Greenwood sophomore: Chosen to the All-District team and the All-State second team. … Finished with a 14-4 record.

Honorable mention

Singles: Nic Ballesteros, Center Grove; Coltan Henderson, Edinburgh; Josiah Rockey, Franklin; Scott Russell, Indian Creek; Logan Snyder, Franklin; Corey Ullrich, Whiteland

Doubles: Charlie Brooks and Nick Belovic, Greenwood; Mason Laugle and Garrison Pelfree, Whiteland; Lane Stephenson and Travis Robinson, Whiteland

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.