For the second straight year, the Greenwood girls tennis team fell one match short of advancing to the semifinals of the IHSAA Team State Finals.
The Woodmen dropped their quarterfinal match to No. 6 Floyd Central 3-2 on Friday in a match played at the Indianapolis Racquet Club. The match was moved indoors because of rain-soaked courts at Fishers High School.
Last year, the Woodmen lost 3-2 to Fort Wayne Canterbury in the quarterfinals.
The team match came down to the No. 3 singles contest between Greenwood junior Mackenzie Estrem and Floyd Central’s Alex Jamison. Estrem raced to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, but Jamison dodged three set points and took the set in a tie-breaker 9-7.
Estrem then rallied to win the second set 6-3.
In the third set, Estrem battled back from 0-40 in the fourth game to break Jamison’s serve and pull within a game at 3-2.
But the Floyd Central freshman broke right back and won three of the last four games to clinch the match and send the Highlanders to today’s state semifinals against unbeaten Penn (21-0) at North Central High School in Indianapolis.
Greenwood’s first point came in the No. 2 singles match, where junior Jade Kawamoto blitzed Alexis Applegate 6-0, 6-1 in 40 minutes. Kawamoto ends her season 18-0.
In No. 1 singles, junior Jackie Kawamoto faced her toughest challenge of the year in senior Olivia Boesing, who entered the match with a 26-1 record. Boesing won the first set 6-3. But Kawamoto matched Boesing’s energy and power to capture the next two sets 6-4, 6-4, improving to 25-0 for the year.
The Highlanders (21-4) claimed both points in doubles play. In No. 1 doubles, Floyd Central’s Whitney Batliner and Dana Frank cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win against seniors Brittany Toney and Taylor Hudnall. And in No. 2 doubles, the duo of Katherine Dauby and Erin Patterson beat Greenwood’s seniors Claire Gallman and Morgan Stunick 6-0, 6-3.
Greenwood coach Steve Gantz was not surprised the match was close.
“We competed well,” he said. “We kind of knew that it would come down to a singles match. Obviously, Jackie and Boesing are unbelievable players, and either one of them could have won it there.
“Mackenzie’s won two big semistate matches in the last two years. She’s been there before and hung in there (today).”
Jackie Kawamoto will continue play next week in the IHSAA State Singles Tournament. Gantz said facing Boesing was good preparation for that competition.
“This year (Jackie) hasn’t had to face that level of player,” he said. “It was a little bit of an eye-opener when she got into it. But she adjusts so well, and even though she struggled serving today, she hung in there.
“She’ll take a few things from this that she knows she has to tweak for next week.”
Looking ahead, the Woodmen (17-6) will return all three singles players from this year’s squad but lose all four doubles players. Gantz said the key to matching the success of the 2012 and 2013 tournaments will be building a lineup beyond the those three returning singles players.
“Obviously, having that group coming back gives us a really good chance going forward,” Gantz said. “But you never want to come down to where you have to depend on three players. You want to depend on five.
“We just hope our young players see what’s available to them and we can develop a little more depth.”