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.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Xavier’s Gators did it again!!
Sparked by the rallies of Areta Buness and Teal Weaver, Xavier claimed its second straight badminton championship with a 5-0 victory over Gilbert Perry at Vestar Hall on Thursday night (Oct. 30). Xavier was seeded No. 1, Perry No. 15.
The semifinals had been held in the Activity Center, but the finals were moved to Vestar to accommodate an assembly on Friday morning (Oct. 31).
“The players worked together, had the discipline, and they loved the challenge (of trying to repeat),’’ said XCP coach Nancy Meyer.
“It’s an amazing feeling. It’s really rewarding, considering how hard we have worked all year,’’ said Buness, one of five outgoing seniors on the roster.

Xavier's 2014 state badminton champions: From left, head coach Nancy Meyer, assistant Francis Hartojo, Baani Khurana, Areta Buness, Mallory Belknap, Teal Weaver, Laura Pearl, Kirielle Singarajah and assistant Susie Murphy.

Buness, the Gators’ No. 1 singles player, struggled in her opening game against Perry’s No. 1, Jenna Reynolds.
Reynolds took an 11-4 win in the first game of the best-of-three format and led most of the second game before Buness reached back and rallied for an 11-9 win. The momentum carried over to the third game and Buness prevailed 11-2.
“The first game, I was kind of beating myself,’’ Buness said. “I started to concentrate on getting better serves and focusing my shots going over the net and staying inbounds.’’
Said Meyer: “I was never really worried about Areta. She was a fighter. She is so focused.’’
Weaver, the No. 3 singles player, also fell in her first game, 11-4, to Lauren Kater. Weaver came back in a big way, earning an 11-0 shutout in the second game and an 11-8 win in the decisive game.
How did Weaver regain her composure?
“I just knew how really important these games were, to help us not have to play doubles,’’ she said.
“I was really nervous at first. I was not making my shots. But then I brought it back together. It was a lot of fun to win this with all of the girls.’’
No. 2 Kirielle Singarajah was in control most of the way in an 11-5, 11-4 win over Laike Reader. No. 4 Mallory Belknap defeated Adela Martinez, 11-0, 11-6. No. 5 Baani Khurana had a pair of 11-5 wins over Michaela Dye. No. 6 Laura Pearl won her first game 11-9 but the second game was not necessary after Buness outlasted Reynolds.
The Gators swarmed the court amid shouts of joy. They celebrated with the championship trophy and posed for photos taken by family and friends.
The title was the fifth for Xavier since 2004.

1 comment:

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