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, August 22, 2017

Experienced players benefit XCP badminton

Badminton is one of the sports where experience might be considered more important than in others.

And Xavier Prep has three key players who are ready to help lead the team when it begins its 2017 season Wednesday (Aug. 23) with a road match at Mesa Red Mountain. The Gators also play at Tempe Corona del Sol on Thursday (Aug. 24).

The three players with state-tournament experience are seniors Maddie Reinhart and Alexa Wolfson and junior Misaal Irfan. All play singles and doubles.

“We have won four state titles in a row and we want to make it a fifth,’’ Reinhart said.

Reinhart and Wolfson likely will play doubles together in most matches, while Irfaan likely will be paired with junior Maeve Lee.

“We are all good friends and make each other better,’’ Wolfson said.

“There is good competition out there and that will help our team,’’ Irfaan said.

There will be an infusion of new blood on the team this year – 10 first-year players will bring added enthusiasm.

“We want to support everyone, as seniors, and do whatever we can to help,’’ Reinhart said.

Wolfson said the goal is to let the players know what to expect.

“As seniors, we want to make it a great last year,’’ she said.

“Making everyone comfortable on and off the court is very important,’’ Irfaan said.

Xavier faces a big early season challenge due to the fact that six of its first seven matches are on the road. The Gators’ first home match is Aug. 31 against Mesa Mountain View.

“You may have a little extra stress, trying to get your (school) work done and knowing that you will have to leave around the seventh period (of classes),’’ Reinhart said.

Once the team arrives at an opponent’s gym, “You have to get used to the surroundings quickly because it’s different than what you’re used to,’’ Irfaan said.

The team had its annual photo session with a long-time Valley photographer in the XCP courtyard on Monday (Aug. 21) and that was followed by a pizza and parent meeting in which coach Sue Contreras went over various rules and what she expects from the players.

“We have been working hard and we are ready to get the season started,’’ she said.

Xavier Prep badminton roster – 2017

Seniors – Maddie Reinhart, Rebecca Ryan, Alexa Wolfson, Mimi Zurbriggen.

Juniors – Maddie Dines, Taylor Dines, Anai Hernandez, Misaal Irfan, Maeve Lee, Jane Tiffany.

Sophomores – Mia Byrd, Mayse Dunn, Paige Gehriger, Kate Greene, Alexandra Kocuinis, Phoebe Ranscon, Katie Yuh.

Freshmen – Zoe Barton, Maggie Kamps, Sophie Riviere, Lina Vanderwey.

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