DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gator puts injury behind her, returns to badminton

Baani Khurana was smiling a lot on Wednesday (Sept. 17).
She had helped the XCP badminton team defeat visiting Tempe High 9-0 with victories in singles and then in doubles with partner Areta Buness.
It had been six long weeks since the senior had sprained an ankle in preseason workouts, an injury that put her on crutches and prevented her from playing the sport she loves.
“Sprains are so unpredictable. You never seem to know what’s going to happen (in terms of healing),’’ said Khurana.
She said she visited the trainer’s room “just about every day’’ and exercised her upper body to stay strong, mentally as well as physically.
She gradually began to use the ankle again and put it to the test with various exercises that helped bring her agility back.
“Footwork is probably the most important part in badminton,’’ she said.
“It was hard because all of the other girls were ahead of me by one month. But I kept working at it because I love being out on the court so much. But I am starting to get my mojo back.’’
Khurana’s perseverance helped her and then-fellow junior Mallory Belknap capture a key doubles match during the Division I team tournament in 2013, allowing Xavier to escape with a 5-4 win over Phoenix Mountain Pointe.
Khurana was cleared to practice this week, and she earned those aforementioned victories.
“It felt awesome to be back out there,’’ she said.
She wants to maintain a clean bill of health for the rest of the season. She is one of five seniors on the varsity and says, “We are more motivated because of that. We want to play our best.’’
The Gators are back in action on Thursday (Sept. 18) with a road match at Mesa Westwood.

Xavier 9, Tempe High 0
No. 1 singles – Areta Buness (X) def. Zoe Nelson (T) 11-1, 11-0.
No. 2 singles – Kirielle Singaraja (X) def. Sandra Salazar (T) 11-2, 11-1.
No. 3 singles – Teal Weaver (X) def. Desiree Muniz (T) 11-0, 11-0.
No. 4 singles – Laura Pearl (X) def. Nayla King (T) 11-1, 11-0.
No. 5 singles – Sydney LaPierre (X) def. Sierraline Perez (T) 11-1, 11-0.
No. 6 singles – Baani Khurana (X) def. Alma Obispo (T) 11-0, 11-1.

No. 1 doubles – Singaraja-Weaver (X) def. Nelson-Salazar (T) 15-1, 15-5.
No. 2 doubles – Buness-Khurana (X) def. Muniz-King (T) 15-1, 15-1.
No. 3 doubles – Pearl-LaPierre (X) def. Perez-Obispo (T) 15-4, 15-0.
Junior varsity
Xavier 9, Tempe High 0
No. 1 singles – Tatum Clarke (X) def. Angie Cabala (T) 11-3, 11-2.
No. 2 singles – Kiana V-McDonald (X) def. Karla Aguilar (T) 11-1, 11-1.
No. 3 singles – Emily Woodrow (X) def. Melissa Nolasco (T) 11-0, 11-4.
No. 4 singles – Julia Blake (X) def. Breanna Taylor (T) 11-1, 11-1.
No. 5 singles – Katie Harris (X) def. Maaida Sukora (T) 11-0, 11-5.
No. 6 singles – Gracie Dowd (X) def. Mahia Sukora (T) 11-0, 11-0.

No. 1 doubles – Clarke-McDonald (X) def. Cabala-Aguilar (T) 15-3, 15-2.
No. 2 doubles – Woodrow-Blake (X) def. Nolasco-Taylor (T) 15-1, 15-1.
No. 3 doubles – Harris-Dowd (X) def. Maaida Sukora-Mahia Sukora (T) 15-3, 15-4.

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