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Twins power Greenwood girls tennis team to tournament title

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Sophomores Jade Kawamoto and twin sister Jackie Kawa
Sophomores Jade Kawamoto and twin sister Jackie Kawa

Sophomores Jackie Kawa
Sophomores Jackie Kawa

There’s a touch of appropriateness in Greenwood’s girls tennis team holding down the No. 21 spot in the latest state coaches poll.

What else would you call a team with two No. 1s.

Since the beginning of this season, sophomore twins Jade and Jackie Kawamoto have taken turns playing No. 1 singles for coach Steve Gantz, who can’t go wrong regardless of which play­er the unseen revolving door puts on the court.

Jade, the older sister by a few moments who never tires of reminding her mirror image of that very thing, is a left-hander sporting a 13-0 record. Jackie, a right-hander who at this time holds the academic bragging rights — a No. 7 class ranking compared with Jade’s No. 10 — also is unbeaten in 13 matches.

“They are just really even in the way they play,” said Gantz, the Woodmen’s coach since 1995. “I just wanted to keep them motivated. It’s a little different, but with Jade and Jackie, it seems to work. Down the road that obviously will have to change for the state tournament.”

Time remains. The first serve at the Center Grove Sectional won’t be delivered until May 16. By then expect Gantz to have a better understanding of which Kawamoto sister has earned the top singles perch and what doubles combinations pack the most point potential.

Entrenched at No. 3 singles is sophomore Makenzie Estrem, who is 10-3 overall. As of now, the top doubles pairing is senior Mattie White and junior Taylor Hudnall, while junior Brittany Toney and freshman Ali Youngman comprise the second doubles combo.

Greenwood (12-1) impressed at the recent Johnson County Tournament, defeating Franklin 4-1 in the title match following a 5-0 blanking of Whiteland in the morning semifinals. It marked the first county championship since 2002 for a program unblemished this spring aside from a 3-2 loss to Jasper, a seven-time state finals qualifier.

“A lot of our players got pressed into action last year, which is helping us now,” Gantz said. “I’ve been very pleased with their focus. They don’t seem to be looking ahead.”

Setting the example are the Kawamotos, who didn’t even come out for tennis as freshmen.

The Kawamoto family moved to central Indiana from Hawaii in 2004, during the summer between their second- and third-grade years. Their mother, Cindy, is originally from the area, having graduated from Southport High School.

Their love of soccer parallels that of tennis, which is why Jade and Jackie opted for travel soccer last spring. Their minds changed, they now find themselves attempting to lead the Woodmen to their first sectional tennis crown since 2004.

“I probably wouldn’t have done it had (Jade) not come out, too,” Jackie Kawamoto said. “We do everything together.”

Greenwood girls tennis is the better for it.

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