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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Gator tennis players shine at state

Xavier Prep tennis players did not reach the pinnacle they had hoped, but they still could depart Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Center on Saturday (April 29) with their heads held high after strong overall performances in the Division I individual singles and doubles state tournament.
The No. 3-seeded doubles team of senior Jordan Craft and freshman Emily Even played in the championship match but fell to top-seeded Grace Koester and Erin Hannen of Scottsdale Chaparral, 6-0 and 6-2.
Koester and Hannen also defeated the unseeded Xavier doubles team of junior Maddy Corley and freshman Jessica Miramelli, 6-0 and 6-0 in Friday’s (April 28) quarterfinals.
And freshman singles player Erica Stutz, the No. 4 seed, fell in Saturday’s semifinal to Phoenix Horizon’s Liza Isayev, 6-4, 6-0. Isayev went on to win the state title later in the day, and Stutz defeated Anthem Boulder Creek’s Torye Calleja, the seventh seed, 7-5, 6-4, for the consolation championship.
Xavier coach Laurie Martin was encouraged by what she saw during the tournament, especially with three freshmen.
“What they accomplished and the experience they gained is absolutely huge,’’ Martin said. “It certainly gives us hope for the future.’’
“For Emily to reach the state doubles final was really big. All of the girls did a great job.’’
Stutz and Isayev had each other on the run for most of their match, placing shots to all areas of the court and showing good power.
“Erica competed very well with some of the best shots she has had,’’ Martin said.
“We’re looking forward to her continuing to improve. She is very mature for a freshman and stays focused most of the time. She is very driven.’’
The coach also was pleased to see Craft leave no stone unturned in her final Xavier showing. Craft will play at Chapman University in California beginning next year.
“Jordan is a great kid,’’ Martin said. “She has been a team leader for us and has done everything a captain should do.’’
Now the Gators turn their attention to the team portion of the D-I tournament. The Gators, the defending state runner-up, are seeded No. 5 this season.
They defeated Goodyear Millennium 5-0 in the first round last week and will meet No. 4 seed Phoenix Desert Vista on the road on Tuesday (May 2) at 3 p.m. It will be Xavier’s second trip to Desert Vista this season. Desert Vista won that earlier match 6-3.
The Xavier-Desert Vista winner will advance to the semifinals on Friday (May 5) at the Scottsdale Ranch Park in north Scottsdale.

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