The Xavier badminton team will officially start to take shape on Wednesday (Aug. 24), when the Gators play host to Mesa Red Mountain in the season opener at the Activity Center. The match begins at 4 p.m.
The contest will mark the debut of Susan Contreras as head coach. She will inherit some players that helped XCP win its third straight Division I title last season, a number of players who competed at the junior-varsity level and a handful of promising freshmen.
Contreras and her assistant coaches held a recent tryout, in which 53 student-athletes participated. Players were selected for the varsity and JV teams.
“It’s about wins and losses, but it’s also about “coachability’ and how these players respond to what you are trying to teach them,’’ Contreras said.
Volunteer assistant coach Francis Hartojo, who has been involved with the program in recent years, put the girls through their paces with fundamentals work and conditioning drills. Yes, badminton players must be in good condition.
A few players participated in a badminton camp hosted by Xavier this summer, and many others attended an annual camp at Phoenix Sunnyslope, where a lot of the Valley’s top players refine their skills.
Conteras is encouraged by the way the players move on the floor.
“We have some athletes,’’ she said. “Some have played other sports, like volleyball, softball and soccer.’’
The Gators will have a quick turnaround after their first match, facing Tempe Corona del Sol in another home match at 4 on Thursday (Aug. 25).