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Step closer to state champ

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Another state tournament match, another win for Jackie Kawamoto.

The Greenwood Community High School junior defeated Fairfield freshman Emily Mast, 6-2, 6-1, in a Friday quarterfinals match of the IHSAA Girls Tennis Individual State Finals.

Kawamoto (26-0) won the match in 61 minutes at Park Tudor.

With the win, Kawamoto returns for today’s 10 a.m. semifinal against Hamilton Southeastern senior Kelly Iden.


Iden had a much tougher test in her quarterfinals match against North Central freshman Claire Reifeis, prevailing in split sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Today’s other semifinal matches Bailey Padgett of team state champion Carmel against Leah Barnes of Fort Wayne Canterbury. The semifinals winners will meet in the 2 p.m. title match.

With a large fan base cheering her on, including her twin sister Jade, who finished the year undefeated at No. 2 singles, Kawamoto played during chants of, “Let’s go Jackie. You’ve got this Jackie,” from her teammates throughout the match.

Kawamoto got off to a fast start, winning the first four games of the opening set before taking the set relatively quickly. She stressed the importance of starting strong in a highly competitive tournament field.

“I realize at this level I can’t have any bad days,” she said. “I think it’s really important to take to the offense all the time, and if you’re getting down, you can hit some high balls and mix it up and don’t let them stay in their tracks.”

With the second set tied at one game apiece, Kawamoto again broke Mast’s serve and went on to win five straight games.

“She’s a great player,” Mast said. “I just wasn’t hitting my shots. I needed to play the points out more. But it’s been amazing getting this far in my freshman year, and I’m just hoping I can do it again next year.”

Greenwood coach Steve Gantz is confident Kawamoto has saved her best for last.

“She’s been on top of her game,” he said. “It was another solid performance. The other girl you can tell is going to be a strong player. She’s just a little bit young now, but Jackie hung in there and was solid in everything she did.”

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