It is early in the season, but Xavier Prep’s tennis team clearly has its sights set on a fourth straight Division I championship.
The Gators certainly are playing like it.
On Tuesday, they faced Goodyear Millennium, the team they defeated in last year’s semifinals, and rolled to a 9-0, 9-0 win (varsity and junior varsity) at XCP’s Stark Tennis Center.
Xavier, which won the Kiwanis Invitational in Glendale last weekend after starting the season with a win over Peoria Centennial, will have a road match at Mesa Dobson on Wednesday (March 11) and a home contest against Chandler Hamilton on Thursday (March 12).
“The key to winning a state championship is to have good depth, and we have that,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin.
The Gators were led by their top two players, seniors Madison Clarke and Scarlet Rush.
Clark, the two-time defending state singles champion, stopped Millennium’s Gabriela Lawlor 6-1, 6-1. And No. 2 singles player Rush defeated Brandi Sylvan 6-3, 6-1.
Then Clark and Rush teamed up in doubles, rolling to an 8-0 win over Lawlor and Samantha Slagle.
Martin said Clark “is one of a kind. She came in as a freshman and played at a much higher level and has continued to play at a high level. People say she sees the ball well, faster than most people. And when you do that, you can make good decisions about where you are going with the ball (return).
“With her case and everyone’s case, you can always continue to get better.’’
Martin points to a match next week as perhaps the biggest test of the regular season.
Xavier hosts Tucson Salpointe on March 17 and then travels to face Scottsdale Chaparral on March 19. Xavier has defeated Chaparral for its three titles.
Madison Clarke (X) def. Gabriela Lawlor (M) 6-1, 6-1; Scarlet Rush (X) def. Brandi Sylvan (M) 6-3, 6-1; Caroline James (X) def. Samantha Slagle (M) 6-0, 6-0; Jordan Craft (X) def. Emily Smith (M) 6-0, 6-0; Anne Marie Collins (X) def. Bryn Luckow (M) 6-0, 6-0; Caroline Armknecht (X) def. Kellie McGeorge (M) 6-0, 6-1.
Clarke-Rush (X) def. Lawlor-Slagle (M) 8-0; James-Craft (X) def. Sylvan-Smith (M) 8-3; Collins-Armknecht (X) def. Luckow-McGeorge (M) 8-1.
Junior varsity singles
Kayah Byrd (X) def. Hailey St. Bernard (M) 8-0; Madeline Corley (X) def. Veronica N. (M) 8-0; Stephanie Burckhard (X) def. Enz L. (M) 8-1; Jamie Shores (X) def. Madeline P. (M) 8-2; Shelby Daniel (X) def. Shyla T. (M) 8-0; M.J. O’Gara (X) def. Bana M. (M) 8-1.
Junior varsity doubles
Corley-Elizabeth Bucti (X) def. St. Bernard-Veronica N. (M) 8-1; Kati Straneva-Daniel (X) def. Enz L.-Madeline P. (M) 8-0; Lucy Vietor-Isabella McClelland (X) def. Shyla T.-Bana M. (M) 8-1.