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Woodmen claim third straight sectional title


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 Twins sister Jackie Kawamoto defeated Center Grove senior Priya Dave in straight sets 6-0, 6-0.
Twins sister Jackie Kawamoto defeated Center Grove senior Priya Dave in straight sets 6-0, 6-0.

Senior Jade Kawamoto defeated Center Grove senior Jillian Fledderman 6-1, 6-0 to lead Greenwood to its third consecutive girls tennis sectional championship on Saturday.
Senior Jade Kawamoto defeated Center Grove senior Jillian Fledderman 6-1, 6-0 to lead Greenwood to its third consecutive girls tennis sectional championship on Saturday.


The Greenwood Community High School girls tennis team wrapped up another sectional championship, its third in a row, beating host Center Grove 4-1 on Saturday.

And for the third year in a row, the Woodmen vanquished one of the area’s traditionally best programs to win the title.

“We were very concerned about this match coming in because of Center Grove’s reputation and their tough schedule,” 20th-year Woodmen coach Steve Gantz said. “But the girls responded well and competed well, and that’s what we want to do.”

 

With the win, the seventh-ranked Woodmen (15-2) take momentum into the next round of the state tournament.

Greenwood plays Franklin Central in the first of two regional semifinals at Center Grove on Tuesday. Southport plays Shelbyville in the other semifinal.

Tuesday’s winners will play in Wednesday’s championship final.

Against the Trojans from top to bottom, the Woodmen executed almost to perfection, as they have done most of the season.

In just 35 minutes, defending state singles champion senior Jackie Kawamoto defeated Trojans’ senior Priya Dave at No. 2 singles in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.

A few minutes later, her twin sister, senior Jade Kawamoto exited the courts after beating Center Grove senior Jillian Fledderman at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-0.

The Woodmen clinched the team’s winning third point when senior Makenzie Estrem defeated Trojans’ freshman Katelyn Gray 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 singles.

Because Greenwood’s dominance at Nos. 1 and 2 singles the past three seasons, Estrem — a three-year starter at No. 3 singles — has almost always been the exclusive, determining factor in the team result.

“Kenzie has played her best tennis in the last couple weeks,” Gantz said. “Now a senior, she’s had over 100 varsity matches.

“She’s 19-2 this season, and her experience really paid off today.”

For Estrem, nothing really changes from match to match. She remains calm and collected.

“In these kind of matches, you have to stay in it for the long run,” she said. “I’ve gotten used to staying calm the entire time, no matter what happens, and block out everything else at the same time.”

The Woodmen posted their fourth team point of the day at No. 2 doubles.

Senior Madison Gaudian and sophomore Abby Chatham battled their way to a tough 6-4, 7-5 win against Center Grove senior Kim Spindler and sophomore Madison Smeathers.

“We’ve been working all year on our doubles,” Gantz said. “Both of our teams won in the Mid-State Conference tournament, but this is a different stage.

“We have six solid doubles players, and any one of them can step in when needed.”

Last off the court, Trojans’ senior Kaitlyn Walsh and freshman Bailey Sammons teamed to win the No. 1 doubles match against junior Ali Youngman and sophomore Joanna Moran 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Center Grove closes it season at 8-14.

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