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.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gator tennis title wraps up "crazy weekend''

Asked her reaction after she helped Xavier Prep earn its first tennis title since 2015 and 19th overall with a 5-0 win over Chandler Hamilton in the Division I finals on Saturday (May 4), junior Erica Stutz said, “It’s been kind of a crazy weekend.’’

Yes, when craziness in sports is the topic of conversation, tennis usually is far down the list. It is pretty calm by comparison.

But this was a rare occasion, at least in the state tournament.

Two-time defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain, the top seed, was forced to forfeit by the Arizona Interscholastic Association after its semifinal win over Hamilton on Friday (May 3) due to a rules infraction in regard to its lineup.

That put No. 4 Hamilton in the title match against No. 2 Xavier, and the Gators coasted at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale as they did against the Huskies, 9-0, on April 11.

Xavier finished the season 17-0.

The Gators got victories from players 2 through 6 in their lineup. They were, in order, Stutz, freshman Ryan Kershner, junior Lorelei Glidden, senior Kate Stegman and sophomore Emilia Chrostowski. No. 1 player Tristanne Dechoux was still playing her match when the title was decided. No doubles matches were necessary.

“We (coaches) are really proud of the girls,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “They were extremely close the whole season. They fought for each other, and you don’t always see that in tennis.’’

Martin was assisted by Ann Coover, Amy Gallo, Wendy McDaniel, Ford Oliver and Joy Rodey.

If it were not for a victory rally against Scottsdale Chaparral 5-4 in the semifinals, the Gators would not have been here. They were down 0-3 before coming back.

“That semi was one of the best matches I’ve ever been a part of,’’ Martin said.

When Kershner came in as a freshman, she wasn’t really sure what to expect. She knew of Xavier’s outstanding history, but she couldn’t really comprehend what being a part of it would be like.

“I’m really happy to help us win in my freshman year. Not everyone is able to do that, to have that chance,’’ she said.

She will have three more chances to put her fingerprints on a championship trophy. More good, young players also will join the program and the cycle of excellence will continue.

Division I championship

Xavier Prep 5, Hamilton 0


No. 1 – Tristanne Dechoux, X, did not finish against Shivika Agrawal, H. No. 2 – Erica Stutz, X, def. Nidhi Pulicherla, H, 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Hannah Szoke, H, 6-0, 6-0. No. 4 – Lorelei Glidden, X, def. Sophia Reltano, H, 6-1, 6-3. No. 5 – Kate Stegman, X, def. Katie Dussault, H, 6-1, 6-0. No. 6 – Emilia Chrostowski, X, def. Nisha Kalmadi, H, 6-3, 6-1.


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