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 2, 2021

Frosh tennis doubles team reaches state final

 Despite being freshmen, Dani Dyer and Belani Soto gained a lot of tennis experience for Xavier Prep during the regular season and that experience carried over for them to the Division I state tournament over the weekend.

In fact, it carried them all the way to the state doubles championship match on Monday (May 3) at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Dyer and Soto, the No. 3 seed, will face top-seeded Olivia Kim and Julia Frazier of Scottsdale Desert Mountain in the title match. The two teams met in a team match at Xavier on April 15 with Kim and Frazier recording an 8-4 victory as Desert Mountain won the overall match 9-0.

In the opening round on Friday (April 30) at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, Dyer and Soto defeated Emi Ito and Tahlia Peper of Phoenix Desert Vista, 6-0, 6-0.  The Xavier duo got another shutout in the second round on Friday, this one over Kylie Williams and Sadie Schow of Queen Creek Casteel.

That win pushed Dyer and Soto into the quarterfinals on Saturday (May 1) as the tournament shifted across town to Paseo.

Dyer and Soto defeated a pair of Sophias, Lee and Lopez, from Tucson Rincon/University, in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-1. That was followed by a 6-0, 6-0 win over No. 7 seed Lanie Blomquist and Nicole Jones of Mesa Mountain View to set up Monday’s title match.

Xavier also had representatives in singles competition.

Junior Victoria Chrostowski won her opening match on Friday at Gene Autry, 6-0, 6-0 over Avery Jones of Gilbert Perry. The second-round match was against fifth-seeded Katherine Zawada-Das of Mesa Westwood, who eliminated the unseeded Chrostowski, 6-0, 6-2.

Xavier freshman Megan Wheeling also was entered in singles but could not compete due to an injury, thus creating a forfeit and sending Ashley Wellik of Perry to the next round.

Also, Xavier remains in contention for the overall team title. After defeating No. 14 Peoria Sunrise Mountain in the opening round on April 27, the third-seeded Gators will battle No. 6 Mesa Mountain View on Tuesday (May 4) at Xavier’s Stark Tennis Center, with a 3 p.m. start.

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