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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reinhart, Wolfson No. 2 seed in badminton doubles

The time has arrived for one of the things that Xavier Prep does best – play badminton with high stakes on the line.

The Division I individual singles and doubles brackets begin on Friday (Oct.20) at Glendale Independence with the tournament continuing and champions crowned on Saturday (Oct. 21) at the same location.

Xavier will have two doubles teams and one singles player.

The first doubles team is made up of seniors Maddie Reinhart and Alexa Wolfson. They will be seeded second. The second team features junior Misaal Irfan and senior Rebecca Ryan. Xavier’s singles entrant is Mimi Zurbriggen, a senior. Irfan and Ryan are unseeded, as is Zurbriggen.

Reinhart and Wolfson will play their first match on Saturday against unseeded Brooklyn Heywood and Tatum Monk of Mesa Mountain View. The winner would advance to the second round later in the day. All first-round matches begin at 10 a.m.

Irfan and Ryan have a tougher task ahead of them. They face the top-seeded duo of Gilbert Perry’s Jordan Pierson and Jessica Read. And Zurbriggen is set to meet Chandler High’s Alana Alfredo.

From Day 1 at the start of the season, Xavier coach Sue Contreras said Reinhart and Wolfson wanted to play together. They also were 1 and 2 in singles.

“Sometimes girls say they want to be playing partners, but that doesn’t always work out for whatever reason,’’ Contreras said. “In our case, we are fortunate that this one did.’’

The pair gradually built confidence in themselves and each other, and it came through in a big way when they won the Forner Invitational tournament at Phoenix Sunnyslope in mid-September. They also nearly won the Independence Invitational.

“Something just sparked and we got it going on in that tournament (Forner),’’ said Reinhart. “I think we sort of figured out some things that worked and some that didn’t.’’

Said Wolfson: “We’ve been working well, especially the last few weeks, and we are “amped up’ to be playing at the state tournament.’’

Contreras agreed.

“That (Forner) was one of those points within the season where something kind of makes you start to click,’’ she said. “The communication skills are better, the way they move . . . they are playing as a team instead of as individuals and when you do that, good things happen.’’

Reinhart said she and Wolfson have been working hard “and we are going to do whatever we can to play our best.’’

Both girls played for Xavier in the state tournament last year, including the separate team portion, and they said that experience should keep nervousness at a minimum.

Team badminton brackets – The early pairings have been announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association and that tournament will begin on Monday (Oct. 23) at the sites of the high seeds. Semifinals are Oct. 25 at Phoenix Desert Vista in Ahwatukee and finals are Oct. 26 at Phoenix Sunnyslope.

Xavier, the defending state champion, is seeded No. 4. The Gators will host the first round at the Activity Center. Fifth-seeded Tempe Corona del Sol will meet No. 12 Phoenix Central at 3:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to meet Xavier shortly thereafter.

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