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, October 24, 2015

Strong effort for Gator badminton; team tourney next

It isn’t easy facing a badminton opponent three times in one season. And when that opponent happens to be the defending state champion, the task is even more difficult.
Xavier senior Kirielle Singarajah gave everything she had and then some, but fell just short in Saturday’s (Oct. 24) state title singles match against Phoenix Desert Vista’s Karen Guo.
Guo, who won the individual crown in 2014, had to rally in each game on Saturday before she wrapped up the match, 11-8 and 13-10.
Guo and Singarajah, the tourney’s No. 3 seed, met twice earlier this season and each won once.
“It’s a shame because Kirielle worked so hard in the off-season, day-in and day-out. She was in great shape,’’ said Xavier coach Nancy Meyer of Singarajah's tearful reaction.
The coach hoped that Singarajah could force a third game and said she would have had a good chance to win because of the fact that she is in such good condition and because Guo was starting to show fatigue.
“She (Singarajah) played a great game. “It was anyone’s match. It is difficult to play against someone with a history like that (between the two),’’ Meyer said. “I know it is tough to take, but she has a lot to be proud of.’’
Singarajah began the day with an 11-0, 11-8 quarterfinal win over Chandler High’s Alexis Mee, the No. 6 seed. Singarajah earned a spot in the final with an 11-0, 11-0 defeat of Phoenix Greenway’s Makaila Mason.
Both of Xavier’s doubles teams reached the quarterfinals. The sixth-seeded team of junior Tatum Clarke and senior Laura Pearl fell to eventual state runner-up and No. 3 seed Laike Reader and Lauren Kater of Gilbert Perry.
The unseeded Xavier duo of senior Sydney LaPierre and junior Emily Woodrow scored a 15-13, 15-8 upset of No. 4-seeded Aimee Clifford and Racel Goettl of Phoenix Sunnyslope.
In the semifinals, LaPierre and Woodrow fell to eventual champion Elle Millon and Rena Han of Chandler Hamilton, 15-1 and 15-6. LaPierre and Woodrow later played Mesa Red Mountain’s Sara Berg and Nicole Lodestro for the consolation championship and dropped a 15-10, 15-8 decision.
“All of our girls had a good showing, and now we are going to have to be ready for the team tournament,’’ Meyer said.
Xavier has won two straight team titles and is the No. 1 seed in 2015.
The Gators will face No. 16 Goodyear Millennium on Monday (Oct. 26) at XCP with a 4 p.m. start. Two other teams will be on site and also will meet at 4 – No. 8 Prescott and No. 9 Glendale Cactus.
The winners of the Xavier-Millennium and Prescott-Cactus matches will meet at approximately 5:30 in the quarterfinals on Monday.
The winner of the quarterfinal match will move on to the semifinals on Wednesday (Oct. 28) at Perry. The championship match also will be played at Perry on Friday (Oct. 30). Xavier hosted the final two rounds last season.
This year’s top seeds (number in parentheses) – Perry (2), Red Mountain (3), Desert Vista (4), Sunnyslope (5), Glendale Mountain Ridge (6), Mesa Skyline (7), Prescott (8), Cactus (9), Gilbert Mesquite (10), Tempe Corona del Sol (11), Glendale Ironwood (12), Phoenix Horizon (13), Scottsdale Chaparral (14) Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (15) and Millennium (16).

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