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 8, 2022

Tennis runner-up Gators not such an easy mark

 Instead of wallowing in discouragement as other state tennis runners-up might, Xavier Prep coach Laurie Martin did not want her team to sink to that level after the second-seeded Gators fell to No. 1 Scottsdale Desert Mountain 5-2 in the Division I championship match on Saturday (May 7) at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

“Lots of teams would die to reach the state championship (match) and we got there,’’ she said.

It was the 12th runner-up finish to go along with 21 wins. The Gators finished with a 16-2 record, with both losses coming to Desert Mountain (18-0), which won its fourth title since 2017.

There were some who might have thought that Desert Mountain would quickly dispense of the Gators, but that didn’t happen.

“We played hard and we stretched it out to about 3 ½ hours,’’ Martin said.

During that time, the Gators came up with some noteworthy achievements.

No. 1 singles player Ryan Kershner and No. 6 player Belanie Soto scored victories, and No. 5 player Megan Wheeling pushed her opponent to three sets in a marathon match.

So Desert Mountain did not win 5-0 and the match continued into doubles. All three doubles matches were relatively close before Desert Mountain’s No. 3 team finished before its nos. 1 and 2 teams.

“Desert Vista is a very tough team,’’ Martin said. “We knew we would have a battle ahead of us.

“Kudos to them. I was happy with where our girls finished.’’

Martin is due to have the core of her team back in 2023.

That would include Dyer, a sophomore who teamed with Kershner for the state doubles title, freshman Julia Chrostowski, sophomore MeganWheeling and sophomore Belanie Soto.

2022 Division I state championship

Scottsdale Desert Mountain 5, Xavier Prep 2

Saturday, at Paseo Racquet Center, Glendale


No. 1 – Ryan Kershner, X, def. Savanna Kollock, DM, 7-5, 1-6, 11-9.

No. 2 – Julia Frazier, DM, def. Danielle Dyer, X, 6-3, 6-4.

No. 3 – Tessa Wachtel, DM, def. Victoria Chrostowski, X, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 4 – Chae Rin Youn, DM, def. Julia Chrostowski, X, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 5 – Analise Wachtel, DM, def. Megan Wheeling, X, 6-7 (5), 6-0, 10-7.

No. 6 – Belanie Soto, X, def. Reese Schibel, DM, 6-0, 6-1.


No. 3 – Chae Rin Youn-Reese Schibel, DM, def. Megan Wheeling-Kristina Stender, X, 8-2.



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