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Greenwood star closer to dream


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Another match, another step closer to a shot at a state championship.

Greenwood senior Jade Kawamoto (25-0), attempting to travel the same road her twin sister Jackie Kawamoto took a year ago, breezed through her quarterfinal match of the IHSAA Girls Individual Tennis State Finals with a 6-2, 6-0 win against Terre Haute South sophomore Lauren Hambrock at Park Tudor on Friday.

 

Kawamoto, a left-hander who stands at 5-foot-2, had the 5-8 Hambrock uncomfortably going in all directions with an   effective mixture of cross-court forehands, lobs, and soft dunks just over the net.

With the win, Kawamoto advances to today’s 10 a.m. semifinal against junior Quing Wen of Crown Point, a 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal winner against junior Jessica Lorenz of Fishers.

The other semifinal will match Bloomington South junior Denise Azcui, a quarterfinal winner over Fairfield sophomore Emily Mast, against Carmel senior Bailey Padgett.

The semifinal winners will meet in the 2 p.m. championship.

In last year’s title match, Kawamoto’s twin sister, Jackie, defeated Padgett 7-6 (5), 6-1. In a preseason arrangement with Jade, Jackie moved to No. 2 singles this year to give her sister a chance to contend for the state championship.

In the quarterfinal, Hambrock won the first game of the first set before Kawamoto worked her way back for a 3-2 lead.

It was all Kawamoto after that.

Displaying poise and confidence, she dominated the rest of the way, taking the first set 6-2 and not surrendering a game in sweeping the second set.

Slow starts are nothing new for Kawamoto. But neither are fast finishes.

“I’m always looking for consistency in good tennis,” she said. “I started out a little rough, but finally got the groove. The more I played, the more comfortable I became.

“I just have to remain patient and find the shots to play my game, stop worrying too much and stay focused.”

Although it took a few games to adjust to her opponent’s style, Kawamoto — as has been her habit throughout the season — settled into a comfort zone and rhythm.

“She moved me around a lot and I took some hard balls, so I had to keep my feet ready,” Kawamoto said. “Most of the work out there is footwork.

“You have to plant your feet right to come up with the most effective return shots.”

Greenwood coach Steve Gantz applauds Kawamoto’s rare ability to maintain poise and make corrections in any given match, no matter the opponent’s style.

“She stays with it from start to end,” Gantz said. “This was a good match for her to come out and get some confidence. Once she got her rhythm, things started moving in her direction. You saw her confidence grow, and that’s a thing she’s going to have to keep going.

“Her work with Jackie has set the tone in preparation for a faster pace especially at this level. Right now, it’s all about refining every little individual skill.”

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