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.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

1-2-3-4 . . . XCP adds to tennis championship run

Xavier coach Laurie Martin, left, her players and assistant coaches hold up four fingers, signifying the team's fourth straight tennis championship on Saturday in Glendale.
 On Mother’s Day Weekend, it seemed only natural for Laurie Martin to think about her own children as well as her Xavier Prep children, the girls who comprise the school’s tennis team.
“I was very emotional on the bus this morning,’’ she said before Saturday’s (May 9) Division I state team championship match against Mesa Mountain View.
“I had a few tears, particularly thinking about the three seniors who have meant so much to our program (Madison Clarke, Scarlet Rush and Anne Marie Collins) these last four years.’’
A few hours later, Martin, her players, assistant coaches Amanda Martin and Barb Chura and those across Gator Nation were celebrating after Xavier captured its fourth straight state title with a 5-2 victory over the Toros at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.
“To win one is extremely difficult, but to win four (in a row)? Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that.’’
Martin had put her players on notice that Mountain View would not be a pushover. Everybody pretty much knew that, anyway, after the Gators escaped with a 5-4 victory over the Toros during the regular season.
Clarke, who last week won her third straight individual singles title, began the day with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Anya Lamoreaux, half of Mountain View’s talented freshman twins. Emily Akin, Jordan Craft and Collins also came through with singles wins, giving Xavier a 4-2 lead and putting the Gators in position to need just one win out of three doubles matches to clinch it.
Clarke and Caroline James put Xavier over the top with an 8-2 win over Hanna Nelson and Bella Cosenza.
The Gators swarmed the court in celebration, went to the main gathering area to pick up their trophy and then returned to the court for photos, with family and friends serving as cell-phone paparazzi. The team gathered and held up four fingers, signifying a “four-peat.’’
“It was really exciting to win four years in a row,’’ Clarke said.
Collins said it was a true team effort.
“We’ve worked hard for a long time, and we knew we could do it,’’ she said. “All of us are good friends on and off the court.’’
Rush, a three-time state doubles champion and No. 3 finisher this year, echoed Collins’ sentiments.
“It was a lot of fun to do this together,’’ Rush said. “It means more because all of us are beside each other every step of the way.’’
Laurie Martin also credited the contributions of her three alternates, Caroline Armknecht, Kayah Byrd and Maddy Corley, who pushed the regulars every day during practice to help them prepare for the key tournament matches.

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