After failing to advance to the IHSAA Boys Tennis State Finals for what would have been a third-straight trip, the Center Grove High School boys tennis team is determined to return this season.
The Trojans appear to have the tools to do so.
Center Grove returns all three of its singles starters from last season. Those players are seniors Conner Andersen and Cam Schoolcraft at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and sophomore Peter Golder at No. 3 singles.
One of the state’s top players, Andersen advanced to last year’s individual state singles finals, where he bowed out in the quarterfinals.
When it comes to doubles, 38th-year coach Ivan Smith still is experimenting with lineups.
“We have eight experienced players who have won matches, so we’ll just have to see how things work out,” Smith said.
A longtime state power, the Trojans have won 28 sectionals, 25 regionals,
10 semistates and two state titles.
Center Grove opens the season
Aug. 19 against visiting southside rival Perry Meridian.
Here’s a look at other teams in Johnson County:
Longtime coach Pete Khensouri welcomes back the majority of the Lancers’ starting lineup from last season.
The top returners are juniors Kinser Bryant, Kyle Pendleton and Zach Pendleton, in addition to sophomores Dalton Bieker, Tommy Schneider and Isiah McIntosh.
Due to upgrades being made at their home tennis courts, the Lancers will play all 16 matches on the road this season. Their practices are being conducted at Franklin Middle School.
Edinburgh opens the season Aug. 21.
The defending Mid-State Conference champion Grizzly Cubs, under coach Rod Snyder, are in a bit of a rebuilding phase after losing four players to graduation.
But the Cubs still return experience at the singles position.
Sophomore Noah Roberts returns at No. 1 singles, and junior Travis Nerding is back at No. 2 singles.
Franklin, 12-4 last season, was defeated by Center Grove in last year’s opening round of the sectional.
“With returning players, in addition to adding some quality younger players, we’re excited to get the season started,” Snyder said.
Others returning players include seniors Jacob Vandivier, Jacob Zachary and Jake Rockey.
The Cubs open the season Aug. 19 against visiting Southport.
With no seniors, the Woodmen will be fairly young.
However, first-year coach Justin Moran, who takes over for John Hannah, said the underclassmen bring a lot of varsity experience.
Top returning singles players are juniors Bradley Rothaar and Zach Lester.
Also returning are junior Mike Belovic and sophomores Alex Walsh and Jack O’Reilly.
“We are very optimistic for the upcoming season,” said Moran. “We look to be quite competitive at all positions.”
The Woodmen open the season Aug. 21 at Columbus East.
Graduation took a heavy toll on the Braves with the loss of four starters.
However, first-year coach Dave Broshears is optimistic about the season. The Braves are bidding for a seventh straight conference champoinship.
“This team is quite young but is well-positioned to make a run at the Mid-Hoosier Conference title again, after finishing first the last six seasons,” he said.
Top returners include Brett Maulden, Trace Zachary and Riley Tharpe.
Indian Creek opens the season Aug. 19 against visiting Knightstown.
The Warriors, under coach Mike Gillespie, have a good mix of youth and experience.
“Our expectations are high, and we look forward to a great season,” Gillespie said. “We will have fun and we will compete.”
Senior leadership is expected to come from Collin Scott and Logan Robinson.
Also returning to the starting lineup are junior Sam Venter, and sophomores Adam Zietlow and Aaron Scott.
Freshmen Eric Robinson and Caleb Scott are expected to compete for varsity positions.
Whiteland opens the season Aug. 19 against visiting New Palestine.