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, September 24, 2021

Badminton makes progress in the wake of defeat

 Members of Xavier Prep’s badminton team knew what was in front of them when they faced four-time defending state champion Gilbert Perry on Thursday (Sept. 23) at the Activity Center.

Perry was 9-0 and the top team in the first Arizona Interscholastic Association team rankings of the season.

It was a tough task for the Gators, who entered the season with very little experience at the varsity level.

They did their best to withstand the storm, but Perry scored a 9-0 sweep to raise its record to10-0. Xavier fell to 5-6-1.

Xavier coach Brian McNerney said he tried to maintain a sense of calm when talking to the players before the match.

“You are letting them know (about Perry’s strength), but they probably already know,’’ McNerney said. “You can’t go into it with a defeatist attitude. You have to go into it with the idea you are going to make progress, progress each shot, each point, each match . . .’’

Of the Xavier singles players, No. 1 Gigi Riviere played with consistency against Perry’s Nikhita Jayaraj. It appeared that Riviere, a junior, might have Jayaraj, a senior, on the ropes on a few occasions in the first game, but Jayaraj escaped.

Senior Caroline Cobb also took her first game in the No. 5 spot opposite the Pumas’ Emma Cross nearly to the limit.

McNerney was encouraged by the effort of the junior varsity and what those players might be capable of in the future, with only a 5-4 setback to Perry.

Xavier goes back on the road on Wednesday (Sept. 29) with a match at Mesa Skyline.

Gilbert Perry 9, Xavier Prep 0


Nikhita Jayaraj, P, def. Gigi Riviere, X, 21-18, 21-11; Kaylee Ross, P, def. Jasmine Leyva, X, 21-9, 21-13; Jayden Montano, P, def. Sophia Bonilla, X, 21-4, 21-11; Lauren Faust, P, def. Riley Dowdall, X, 21-10, 21-9; Emma Cross, P, def. Caroline Cobb, X, 21-18, 21-10; Emma James, P, def. Lexi Garman, X, 23-21, 21-7.


Cross-Montano, P, def. Riviere-Bonilla, X, 21-14, 21-13; Amiyah Hernandez-Faust, P, def. Leyva-Dowdall, X, 21-6, 21-13; Yeojung Yoo-Morgan Vogt, P, def. Garman-Cobb, X, 21-14, 21-8.

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