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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Badminton wins first-rounder, now it's on to Perry

 Xavier Prep’s badminton team survived to play at least one more day in the Division I state tournament with a 5-3 victory in a first-round match against Phoenix Pinnacle on Monday night (Nov. 9).

That means the ninth-seeded Gators will need an even bigger effort on Tuesday night (Nov. 10) when they travel to face unbeaten, top-seeded Gilbert Perry, the three-time defending state champion. Perry defeated Xavier 9-0 earlier in the season, on Oct. 20.

“We obviously are going to expect tough competition,’’ said Xavier coach Laura Forbes.

Xavier raised its record to 8-6, while Perry stepped up to 14-0 with a 5-0 first-round win over No. 16 Tempe Corona del Sol. Pinnacle finished 6-6 as the eighth seed.

Xavier had defeated Pinnacle 5-4 in the regular-season opener, so Forbes knew what to expect.

“They (Pinnacle) are a very good team, good competition,’’ she said. “They got better during the season and we got better. So we feel good about where we are.’’

In state competition, the winning team does not need to reach nine points as it would during the regular season. The first team to five points wins a state match, so if a team wins five singles matches, no doubles are necessary.

They were necessary against Pinnacle. Xavier held a 4-2 advantage after the singles matches.

Xavier’s No. 2 doubles team of Mia Velasco and Lauren Etsitty started their match first, and the No. 1 team of Lina Vanderwey and Sophie Riviere began shortly thereafter. Pinnacle’s No. 2 duo defeated Xavier to make the overall score 4-3.

Carrying momentum from their fourth-place finish in Saturday’s (Nov. 7) state individual competition, Vanderwey and Riviere stepped up to defeat Pinnacle’s top pair.

“They did a great job to get to the individual semis (Saturday), so yes, I think they still had some of that,’’ Forbes said.

The coach also pointed to Xavier’s No. 5 and No.6 singles players, seniors Malindi Kilb and Zoe Barton, whose wins over Pinnacle helped to set the tone.

Xavier Prep 5, Pinnacle 3


Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Chloe Strachan, P, 21-9, 21-15. Sophie Riviere, X, def. Bella Williams, P, 21-9, 18-21, 21-19. Sam Dirks, P, def. Lauren Etsitty, X, 21-16, 21-6. Faith Kroening, P, def. Mia Velasco, X, 21-18, 19-21, 21-12. Malindi Kilb, X, def. Ari Williams, P, 21-14, 21-18. Zoe Barton, X, def. Madison Kalinowski, P, 21-7, 21-14.


Kroening-Dirks, P, def. Velasco-Etsitty, 21-12, 21-18. Vanderwey-Riviere def. B. Williams-Strachan, P, 21-15, 21-13. A third doubles match was not necessary.

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