By KEVIN HARRIS
One match down for the Floyd Central girls’ tennis team, two victories away from the program’s first-ever state championship.
With the score tied at two, freshman Alex Jamison pulled out a clutch three-set victory at No. 3 singles to give the No. 6 Highlanders a 3-2 win over No. 25 Greenwood (17-6) in the quarterfinals of the IHSAA State Finals on Friday at the Indianapolis Racquet Club. The match was moved to the indoor facility after rain fell at the Fishers High School courts.
Floyd Central (21-4) will take on No. 4 Penn (21-0) in the semifinals of the state finals at 10 a.m. today at North Central High School in Indianapolis. The other semi will pit second-ranked and defending state champion Evansville Memorial (22-0) against No. 1 Carmel (14-0). The championship match will be at 2 p.m. today at North Central.
Despite competing in the formidable Final Four today, Floyd Central coach Rick Miller says his team remains focused on winning the coveted state title.
“We’re just happy to be in the next round, but we’re not satisfied,” Miller said. “If you’re satisfied, you’re not going to win your next round. You’ve got to be more hungry for the next round, the next round and the next round.
“We didn’t come up here to be fifth, sixth or seventh. We came up here to win this thing.”
Jamison showed a lot of poise for a freshman in defeating Greenwood junior Makenzie Estrem at three singles.
Jamison needed to win a 9-7 tiebreaker to take the first set, 7-6. Estrem forced the third and decisive set by claiming Set 2, 6-3.
Jamison took an early 3-1 lead in the third set, but Estrem answered by prevailing in two of the next three games to pull within 4-3.
The eighth game of the set was the most critical of the match. The game went to deuce at least three times before Jamison gained the advantage for good and broke Estrem’s serve to go up 5-3.
Jamison pulled out to a 30-0 lead in the ninth game. Following two straight points by Estrem to deadlock the game at 30, Jamison captured the final two points for a 6-3 win to secure Floyd Central’s spot in the semifinals. Jamison improved her singles record to 22-5.
“We didn’t want the match to come down to a freshman like that. It’s not what we really intended. We thought we were going to probably win 3-2 or 4-1,” Miller said. “But Alex is just an athlete. You saw her run some balls down and that’s what it was all about was athleticism. I think our girl was probably just a little bit better athlete than the Greenwood girl and it showed right there.”
The Highlanders swept the doubles matches with relative ease.
At No. 1 doubles, senior Whitney Batliner and junior Dana Frank knocked off the Woodmen tandem of Taylor Hudnall and Brittany Toney, 6-1, 6-0. Batliner and Frank upped their season mark to 23-3.
The Floyd Central duo of senior Katherine Dauby and sophomore Erin Patterson beat Greenwood seniors Claire Gallman and Morgan Stunick, 6-0, 6-3.
“Our doubles teams are so balanced. We’ve got four athletes right down there playing,” Miller said. “Our one doubles is so polished and so smart. They have no fear now. They don’t care who they play now. Our two doubles is kind of like that now, too. Both our doubles are really confident right now.”
The Highlanders had no answer for Woodmen twin sisters Jackie and Jade Kawamoto as the siblings each kept their undefeated records intact in singles action.
Jade Kawamoto defeated Floyd Central sophomore Alexis Applegate at No. 2 singles, 6-0, 6-1. Jade Kawamoto improved her record to 18-0, while Applegate dropped to 17-10.
“She was just nervous,” Miller said about Applegate. “She’s our least-experienced player of all our girls. She’s got great strokes, but she never loosened up. She’s just got to relax and play her game.”
The most-anticipated individual matchup in the match happened at No. 1 singles between Jackie Kawamoto and Floyd Central senior standout Olivia Boesing.
Boesing won the first set, 6-3. But Jackie Kawamoto bounced back to win the final two sets by 6-4 scores. The Greenwood star’s victory tied the overall match at two as she upped her record to 25-0. Boesing, who finished third in last year’s IHSAA individual singles tournament, fell to 26-2.
“[Jackie Kawamoto] is a real consistent player,” Miller said. “She’s a baseliner and we knew that. We got a scouting report on her from two different coaches. They said, ‘Don’t get in a rally with her because she won’t lose the rally. You have to serve and volley and get to the net some,’ and we didn’t do enough of that. It was a great match.
“It was just a shame that Olivia had to go down today. But maybe it takes a little pressure off her when you stop and think about it. Now, she can go out and swing.”
Floyd Central did not play Penn in a dual match this season. But four Highlanders faced four Kingsmen in individual matches during the Crawfordsville Invitational on April 20, winning three of those matchups.
Penn, which topped 11th-ranked Park Tudor 4-1 in its quarterfinal on Friday, has three singles players with only one loss apiece this season. The Kingsmen’s No. 2 doubles team of Amanda Ahmed and Cameron Moore has a 23-0 mark this year. Penn’s No. 1 doubles duo of Haley Meekhof and Lauren McCarthy is 21-2.
“We know that all of their three singles players are awesome. We’re going to be hard-pressed to beat them,” Miller said.