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.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Tennis champs poised for another strong season

The start of the 2020 tennis season is almost here, and Xavier Prep appears to have the necessary ingredients to produce a second straight Division I state championship and 20th overall.

Perhaps two of the most noteworthy story lines involve senior Emily Even and sophomore Ryan Kershner.

After sharing doubles state runner-up finishes with Jordan Craft in 2017 and Erica Stutz in 2018, Even returns for her final XCP season after sitting out 2019 with back issues. With the help of physical therapy and other treatments, Even is ready to go.

“I am back, and this is important for me,’’ said Even, one of four seniors with Lorelei Glidden, Stutz and McKenzie Virden.

Even said she still is managing some pain, but exercises in the morning help push her through.

“I have been hitting for a few months now, my serve and my forehand are much better and I’m looking forward to being in a competitive situation.’’

Xavier will open its season on Thurday (Feb. 26) with a home match at Stark Tennis Center against Mesa Mountain View.

It is uncertain whether Even will play singles and doubles from the get-go or whether she will wait to try more than one until she and coach Laurie Martin feel comfortable with the idea.

Even might not be paired with Stutz in doubles, and Stutz’s playing partner likely will be sophomore Ryan Kershner, who also is expected to be No. 1 in singles.

Of the doubles placements, Martin said, “There are a lot of different combinations.’’

She was impressed with Kershner’s play as a freshman last season, and said Kershner “continues to grow in her game.’’

Even would like nothing more than to win a state title before she heads off to college next year. She isn’t sure of the school yet, but would like to study computer engineering.

“It seems like yesterday when we first started out as freshmen. We (seniors) want to soak in our last season,’’ Even said.

Glidden is expected to go on and play collegiately at Hamilton in upstate New York, near Syracuse.

Public policy appears to be her main interest. Could that lead to a career in politics some day, perhaps winding up on a debate stage?

“Maybe. You never know,’’ she said with a laugh.

“Playing tennis here at Xavier has been great. It has helped me make a lot of friendships.

“I think I have gotten better overall, I think we all have. Winning state last year helped give us more confidence and we are all excited about it.’’

Among the teams expected to challenge the Gators this spring are Scottsdale Chaparral, Scottsdale Desert Mountain and Chandler Hamilton.

“There are some good teams out there, and that’s what makes it fun,’’ Martin said.

2020 Xavier Prep tennis

*Denotes varsity

(Subject to change)

Head coach – Laurie Martin. Assistants – Amy Gallo, Wendy McDaniel, Ford Oliver, Joy Rodey.

Seniors – *Emily Even, *Lorelei Glidden, *Erica Stutz, *McKenzie Virden.

Juniors – Caroline Brewer, *Emilia Chrostowski, Brooke Wiley.

Sophomores – *Victoria Chrostowski, Caroline Cobb, *Katelyn Cowan, Lily Gabler, Emily Lunt, *Ryan Kershner, Piper Kilb, Nataly Oviatt, Elena Titus, Halston Yerxa.

Freshmen – Riley Dowdall, Sophia Kleingartner, Alissen Orrego, Olivia Taylor, Maria Wolowiecki, *Nyla Vranic.

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