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.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Another productive season ends for frosh tennis

 The Xavier Prep freshman tennis season was full of challenges this fall, including a few related to the COVID-19 virus. But the Gators managed to survive with some of the more experienced players assigned to competitive teams and others just starting out and learning the game with exhibition matches.

“These student-athletes showed their team spirit and winning attitude throughout the season,’’ said Coach Judy Hernandez, who with her staff worked with 94 players this season (no cuts).

The Xavier “A” team finished with a 4-5 record, with three home matches and six away matches. The Xavier “B” team finished with an 8-1 record with three away matches and six home matches.

There were 13 players per team and four substitute players per team.

“We played the top six players in our competitive matches and gave the rest of the team exhibition matches to increase their tennis skills,’’ Hernandez said.

Megan Wheeling (Xavier A) and Kristina Stender (Xavier B) were voted Most Valuable Players for the season.

“They were both the No. 1 player on each team, since Freshman Tennis focuses on developing new players, we were able to move the seeding around and offer many players the opportunity to compete,’’ Hernandez said.

Marlee McCloskey (Xavier A) usually competed in the 1 or 2 spot, finishing with five singles victories. Kate Lum Lung (Xavier B) often was in the same situation, and ended her first competitive season with six singles wins.

Lum Lung (B) and Amelia Sabatino (A) were voted their team’s respective Most Improved Players.

Hernandez and her assistants enjoyed the season almost as much as the players.

She said the coaching staff wanted to thank the XCP Athletic Department and the school’s maintenance staff for the support they provided during the season.

The varsity team is due to begin play in the spring under the guidance of long-time coach Laurie Martin. You possibly could see some of the freshmen who started out this fall as a part of that process. And just to learn the game and be competitive at the freshman level is an accomplishment in itself.

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