For the third consecutive year, the Greenwood girls tennis team reached the quarterfinals of the IHSAA Girls Team Tennis State Finals.
And for the third consecutive year, that’s where the Woodmen’s spirited postseason run ended.
Seventh-ranked Greenwood lost 3-2 against No. 5 Park Tudor in Friday’s match at Center Grove.
With the match tied 2-2, the outcome hinged on a tightly contested duel at No. 3 singles between Greenwood senior Makenzie Estrem, affectionately nicknamed the “Little Bulldog” by teammates, and Park Tudor freshman Noelle Enkema.
After dropping the first set 6-1, Estrem rallied to take the second set 7-5. But Enkema went on to take the third 6-0.
The occasion marked the third straight year the Woodmen bowed out by a 3-2 score in the quarterfinals. Park Tudor (12-5) advances to today’s semifinals at North Central against No. 1 Carmel.
But the Panthers didn’t have an easy path.
Greenwood (19-3) took an early 2-0 advantage after senior twins Jade and Jackie Kawamoto won their respective Nos. 1 and 2 singles matches.
Jade, unbeaten at 24-0, defeated previously unbeaten junior Brigette Hodge in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.
Jackie, the reigning state singles champion, also improved to 24-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 victory against sophomore Abby Sogard.
But Park Tudor went on to earn a sweep at doubles.
At No. 1, seniors Hannah Klapper and Ali Lebovits, runners-up in the state doubles competition last year, defeated junior Ali Youngman and sophomore Joanna Morgan in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5.
At No. 2 doubles, sophomores Danielle Lebovits and Annie McCarter got by Greenwood senior Madison Gaudian and sophomore Abby Chatham 6-2, 7-6 (5).
Greenwood coach Steve Gantz applauded the effort in what he knew would be a grueling showdown against the traditional state power Panthers.
“We’re happy. We knew it was going to be a 50-50 match,” Gantz said. “Congratulations to Park Tudor; they have a fine team. Our girls at every position came out battling, and we just couldn’t get over the hump.
“Now, we’ll concentrate on getting Jade ready for the singles state finals.”
Despite the team loss, Jade Kawamoto — by virtue of being undefeated at No. 1 singles — is still in contention for the state singles championship.
Although her team will not be with her, Jade said her routine and preparation won’t change for the state singles finals, which begin June 13.
“When I come into a match, I always try to identify in my opponent which strokes are stronger and how they handle certain balls,” she said. “I try to figure out what weaknesses they have in the first couple games in order to come up with a game plan.
“These last three years have been awesome for Greenwood tennis. We’ve all grown so close and achieved so much together.”