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, August 22, 2019

New coach excited about Gator badminton

Laura Forbes has coached several different sports during her tenure at Xavier Prep, but one of the most exciting for her is rapidly approaching.

She has assumed leadership of XCP’s badminton program, which just wrapped up tryouts and will begin its season on Aug. 29 at Chandler Hamilton, the team which defeated the Gators in the quarterfinals of the Division I state tournament a year ago.

Following a practice in the Activity Center earlier this week, Forbes talked about how much she is enjoying things thus far. She is being assisted by Shaun Fitzgerald and volunteer Karina Magana.

“I love it,’’ Forbes said. “It is maybe the fastest racquet sport there is. Our girls are high-energy.’’

There is a combined 20 players who soon will be placed on the varsity and JV rosters. Of that number, 13 have experience and the others are playing competitively for the first time. The roster includes five sophomores and a pair of freshmen. The lists will be determined as the result of a “ladder’’ competition.

“We don’t really have a lot of practice time before that first match, so we will need to be very efficient as we prepare,’’ Forbes said.

“I think we are going to have a good team, though. We’re going to go ahead and put the bird in play.’’

Xavier finished 11-4 in 2019 but figures to challenge Premier Region rivals Hamilton and defending state champion Gilbert Perry for overall supremacy.

Forbes and her assistants stressed conditioning, accuracy with serves and communication between doubles teammates. The accuracy portion was achieved when the players set up and attempted to get the bird to land within the circle of a plastic Hula Hoop lying on the ground, working both sides of the court.


(Listed alphabetically)

*Note: Varsity and JV teams will be determined prior to first match on Thursday, Aug. 29).

Zoe Barton, Jr.; Sophia Bonilla, So.; Jillian Brown, Jr.; Mia Byrd, Sr.; Carolyn Cobb, So.; Mayse Dunn, Sr.; Lauren Etsitty, Jr.; Sam Gburek, Jr.; Malindi Kilb, Jr.; Alex Kockinis, Sr.; Jasmine Leyva, So.; Sienna Martinez, Jr.; Ava Novak-Buckey, Fr.; Daisy Ontiveros, So.; Dani Rivera, So.; Gigi Riviere, Fr.; Sophie Riviere, Jr.; Alonda Tarin, So.; Lina Vanderwey, Jr.; Mia Velasco, Jr.

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