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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Badminton rolls to victory in quarterfinals

Four in a row?
The goal is in sight for the Xavier Prep badminton team.
The Gators defeated Mesa Red Mountain 5-0 in a Division I quarterfinal match on Monday (Oct. 24) at the Activity Center, and will move on to the semifinals on Wednesday (Oct. 26). Top-seeded XCP will face No. 4 seed Glendale Mountain Ridge at Desert Vista High in Ahwatukee. Start time is 6:30 p.m.
The other semifinal will feature second-seeded Gilbert Perry and No. 3 seed Mesa Skyline.
If Xavier reaches Thursday’s (Oct. 27) championship match and wins at Phoenix Sunnyslope, it will mark the team’s 10th state title and fourth in a row.

Xavier's badminton team continued its excellence with a win over Mesa Red Mountain in the quarterfinals. Gators, from left, are Misaal Irfan, Alexa Wolfson, Maddie Reinhart, Emily Woodrow, Kiana Valentova-Macdonald, Tatum Clarke and Annie Kamps. (Photo by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

 Xavier coach Sue Contreras was impressed by her players’ focus against Red Mountain, which had defeated Phoenix Horizon 5-0 in a first-round match.
“We were really excited to play. We couldn’t wait to get out there,’’ Contreras said. “Once we stepped on the court, we were able to take care of business quickly.’’
Xavier swept its first five singles matches. Had Red Mountain won two of those, the match would have gone to doubles play, where newly minted state champions Tatum Clarke and Annie Kamps would be waiting. Xavier also had the third-place finishers at state over the weekend, Emily Woodrow and Kiana Valentova-Macdonald.
Clarke started things off in singles with a 11-0, 11-1 win over Red Mountain’s Abby Mann. Next came Woodrow, who defeated Alana Ramirez 11-4, 11-5. Valentova-Macdonald defeated Monica Ramirez 11-6, 11-1, Maddie Reinhart defeated Taylor Ussery 11-1, 11-3 and Misaal Irfan defeated Courtney Smith 11-2, 11-4.
Xavier will be playing a Mountain Ridge team that features state singles champion Mackenzie Whitten. Skyline has state singles runner-up Denise Nieves. And Perry is strong in doubles, with state runner-up Dominique Garcia and Tori Albin and No. 4 finisher Jillian Lagasca and Katie Cross.

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