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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sunlight shines bright on freshman tennis

The upcoming solar eclipse on Monday (Aug. 21) will do nothing to overshadow the enthusiasm of more than 60 incoming freshmen at Xavier Prep who will participate in the first day of freshman tennis.

The girls will be a part of coach Laurie Martin’s no-cut program that will play matches for six or seven weeks, until the end of September/early October.

There are about 15 players who have had some experience who started workouts on Aug. 14, but the rest are due to begin next week.

“It takes some getting used to, but having all these girls out here is a good thing,’’ Martin said. “The biggest thing is the socialization. They are at a new school and are working to be part of a team. It can help them learn a lifetime sport. It is like we are giving them a gift.’’

To help the girls get used to the game, they will be hitting tennis balls with low pressure, Martin said.

“The good news is, there always will be things for them to work on to help them get better,’’ Martin said.

Three of the freshmen players from last year, Emily Even, Lorelei Glidden and Erica Stutz, wound up joining the varsity team in the spring and made key contributions. Martin is not certain if there will be any young players this year who can follow a similar path, but she and her assistant coaches, Ann Coover, Amy Gallo and Joy Rodey, look forward to helping the girls make progress.

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*Stutz and Even were winners in the recent U.S. Tennis Association Junior Sectionals and are ticketed to play in the national tournament in September in Orlando, Fla. Stutz also received an award for sportsmanship in the Central Arizona section.

*Junior Tristanne Dechoux has been involved in hard-court competition over the summer in San Diego, Martin said.

*Martin is a vice-chair of the USTA National High School Coaching Committee and will attend a conference soon.  One of her projects is to help develop resources for the sport and help it gain more notice.

*Martin also helped start and is the first president of the Arizona Tennis Coaches Association. The organization was begun after consultation with the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The association developed a Web site over the summer. Martin said the group selected an All-State team for Division I last season and would like to add divisions II and III this year.

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