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, October 11, 2017

Freshman tennis was full of superlatives

For several weeks this fall, 70 girls came out to participate in Xavier Prep’s freshman tennis program and when the season was recently completed, they came away with a better idea about the game, their teammates and especially themselves and where they might be headed during their four-year stay on campus.

Laurie Martin, who coaches the no-cut, two-team program as well as the highly competitive varsity group in the spring, said winning is important, “but it’s way more than that. It’s about learning a lifetime sport, gaining friendships, being a part of something at school and having fun with each other.’’

Many of the parents will approach her during the season and after and say thank you to helping their daughters become accustomed to their “new’’ life at the high school level.

“When they do that, it makes you feel really good, and you know you are going about it the right way,’’ Martin said.

Part of Martin’s role is as an administrator, making sure paperwork is in order and logistics such as travel are covered.

“I definitely would like to spend more individual time with the girls, but with the numbers we have, that makes it difficult,’’ Martin said. “That’s why we have such a great staff here to help keep things moving along.’’

Martin’s assistant coaches are Ann Coover, Amy Gallo and Joy Rodey.

Surviving the early season heat was another of the challenges, but the girls did a good job of keeping themselves hydrated.

One of the teams finished with a 10-1 record, the other 4-6.

“With the 4-6 team, there were some close matches that could have gone either way,’’ Martin said.

“I’d say the girls on both teams gave a great effort and learned a lot. Whether they make it to the JV or varsity remains to be seen. You need to take it one step at a time. Making the varsity involves a big commitment, like some of the girls playing almost year-round. But it has been done before, so you never know.

“As we said before, there are a lot of reasons for doing this and that is why we enjoy it.’’

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