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 24, 2017

Badminton will have to buckle up against Perry

This will be about as difficult a challenge as you can have.

Xavier Prep’s fourth-seeded, defending Division I state champion enters Wednesday’s (Oct. 25) semifinal match to face what could be one of the strongest badminton teams in the state’s history.

Top-seeded Gilbert Perry was so dominant in last weekend’s state individual singles and doubles championships that it had both championship singles players and both championship doubles teams.

Perry also will be out to make up for a 5-3 loss to Xavier in last season’s state title match. Xavier was seeded first, Perry second. The Pumas got a measure of revenge late in this regular season with a 6-3 victory at home over the Gators, but it is doubtful that satisfied their hunger.

So now the teams face off at neutral Phoenix Desert Vista at 6:30 p.m. with the winner moving on to the championship match on Thursday night (Oct. 26) at Phoenix Sunnyslope.

“We’re going to have to play very well against them, but we know we are capable,’’ said Xavier coach Sue Contreras. “We want to go out and have fun.’’

She pointed out that both Xavier and Perry have altered their lineups since they last met, which should create a bit of intrigue.

Contreras has been putting her players through the paces in recent practices, treating them as if they were actual matches, in order to keep them sharp.

It worked against fifth-seeded Tempe Corona del Sol on Monday (Oct. 23) with a 5-1 win at the Activity Center. Corona del Sol defeated Phoenix Central 5-1 earlier in the day.

Xavier winners against Corona del Sol were Alexa Wolfson, Misaal Irfan, Rebecca Ryan, Mimi Zurbriggen and Maeve Lee. Because five singles players won, no doubles matches were required.

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