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Tennis player hopes to repeat twin sister’s singles crown

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Tennis players Jade and Jackie Kawamoto Monday at Greenwood Community High School. Photo by Brittany Gray
Tennis players Jade and Jackie Kawamoto Monday at Greenwood Community High School. Photo by Brittany Gray

As a junior, Greenwood girls tennis player Jackie Kawamoto experienced the ultimate by achieving perfection in virtually every way.

Winning the state singles championship at Park Tudor High School last June capped a 28-0 season for Kawamoto, who if things remain as they are won’t be returning to defend her title.

Before the 2014 season began, Kawamoto and her older-by-a-few-minutes twin sister, Jade, decided the latter should be given the same opportunity to reach for glory.

As a result, Jade is now playing No. 1 singles for the Woodmen, with Jackie at No. 2 singles.

“We kind of wanted to play doubles, actually, but both of us playing singles is what’s best for the team. I kind of feel bad because (Jackie) has to be playing No. 2 singles. But she’s OK with it,” Jade said.

“It was pretty much Jackie’s and my decision. She wanted me to play No. 1, and my family wanted me to play No. 1.”

Fifth-ranked Greenwood can’t go wrong either way.

Jade is a left-hander with a big first serve and good offensive arsenal, while Jackie is right-handed and perhaps the better defensive player of the two.

Overall, though, their respective tennis skill sets are almost as much a mirror image of each other as the girls themselves.

Jackie’s career record at the high school level is 48-1 compared to Jade’s 44-0 mark.

The discrepancy in matches played comes from Jackie’s postseason run of a year ago. It should also be noted that Jade missed a portion of the 2013 season after undergoing surgery on her left foot.

“I don’t think I was 100 percent last year, but this season I’m close to it,” Jade said.

For sake of team and family harmony, 20th-year Woodmen coach Steve Gantz sat down with the twins before this season in an effort to make certain no feelings could possibly be stepped on.

“I had a conference with them before we started our practices to see where our focus is. They’re both just excellent athletes, and it was a choice between them. They agreed Jade would play No. 1 and Jackie would play No. 2,” Gantz said.

“I’m sure Jackie is a little down, but having a twin sister you care so much about who is also so good ... they push each other, so I’m totally fine with it.”

The Kawamoto sisters burst onto the local tennis scene as sophomores in 2012. With Jackie playing No. 1 singles and Jade at the second spot, the Woodmen advanced to the state finals before dropping a 3-2 decision to Fort Wayne Canterbury in the quarterfinal round.

Greenwood returned to state last spring before falling short against Floyd Central 3-2 in the quarterfinals.

Both Woodmen points were provided by the Kawamotos, ensuring Jackie, the team’s top singles player, would extend her season by being included in the singles State Finals.

Kawamoto dominated starting with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Plainfield freshman Emily Mast in the quarterfinals before defeating Kelly Iden of Hamilton Southeastern, 7-5, 6-3, in the semifinals.

The championship match featured Kawamoto across the net from previously unbeaten Bailey Padgett of Carmel.

Kawamoto eked out a 7-6 first-set victory with a 7-5 advantage in the tiebreaker. She rolled in the second set, winning 6-1 to become the program’s first singles state champion.

Now Jade Kawamoto has been put in a position to perhaps secure its second.

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