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 4, 2017

Powerful Perry too much for Gator badminton

What is the reason Gilbert Perry’s Pumas are the No. 1-ranked badminton team in Division I by the Arizona Interscholastic Association?

“They are a strong team from top to bottom,’’ said Xavier Prep coach Sue Contreras.

Perry had a bit of revenge on its mind on Tuesday (Oct. 3), when it hosted the Gators in a Premier Region match.

The Pumas had fallen to XCP 5-3 in last season’s state championship match. They returned quite a few players from that team, and it showed in their record. Entering Tuesday’s contest, Perry had not lost a game all season.

Xavier changed that by winning three games, but it wasn’t enough as Perry prevailed 6-3.

Xavier slipped to 11-2 while Perry climbed to 14-0. In Wednesday’s (Oct. 4) AIA power points rankings, Perry was first, followed by Phoenix Desert Vista, Glendale Mountain Ridge and XCP. The Gators had been ranked third before the Perry match.

“We did play well at certain times,’’ Contreras said. “I’m not exactly sure why, but if we play a good team, we tend to rise to their level. We did some of that today.

“We always talk about improving, playing better in matches like this and we did a little bit of that, but we still have a lot to work on.’’

Xavier, which has won four straight state titles, knew this season would be a challenge.

“We knew teams were going to come after us,’’ Contreras said. “But it’s still our goal to defend the state championship.’’

Senior Alexa Wolfson had a big day for the Gators.

Playing in the No. 2 singles slot, she battled back and forth with her Perry opponent before emerging with an 11-6, 11-6 win. Wolfson also joined senior Maddie Reinhart for a 15-10, 17-15 triumph as the No. 1 doubles team.

Junior Misaal Irfan was the third winner for Xavier, taking an 11-8, 11-7 singles victory.

Xavier finishes its regular season on Thursday (Oct. 6) with a match at Chandler Basha.

The Division I state tournament for singles and doubles will be Oct. 20-21 at Glendale Independence. The state team tournament begins Oct. 23 at the sites of the highest seeds, then continues on Oct. 25 and 26 with semifinals and finals at Phoenix Sunnyslope.

Xavier vs. Gilbert Perry


Maddie Reinhart lost to Perry, 11-5, 11-3.

Alexa Wolfson def. Perry, 11-6, 11-6.

Mimi Zurbriggen lost to Perry, 11-2, 11-3.

Misaal Irfan def. Perry, 11-8, 11-7.

Maeve Lee lost to Perry, 11-1, 11-1.

Anai Hernandez lost to Perry, 11-5, 11-1.


Reinhart-Wolfson def. Perry, 15-10, 17-15.

Zurbriggen-Rebecca Ryan lost to Perry, 15-10, 15-2.

Hernandez-Maddie Dines lost to Perry, 15-4, 15-3.

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