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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Footwork is key for frosh to pick up tennis game

 Most of the 70-plus players who participated in the Xavier Prep freshman tennis program in the fall came away with confidence and enjoyed the experience while awaiting to decide what their next steps will be as they move through their remaining three years.

The two higher skill-level teams, the Blue and the Green, combined for a 13-7 record with a about two dozen or so refining their skills. The remainder of the 40 players, most at the beginner’s level, learned quite a bit during their intense-yet-fun sessions each Friday.

“I think that Fridays were the most fun for the girls,’’ said co-head coach Karen Fleissner. “I think they came away feeling good about themselves.

“Some of these girls have the skills and confidence that they will be able to try out for the varsity (in the spring).’’

Fleissner joined the program as co-head coach and worked with co-head coach Judy Hernandez assistant coaches Barbara Holcomb, Amy Gallo, Ford Oliver Jr., Lara Murphy and Meg Yuan.

Fleissner had been, and remains the boys’ coach at Phoenix Arcadia in the spring.

She said her way of doing things at Xavier wasn’t much different than what she had been doing previously with the other program.

“We had two competitive teams here, and on top of everything it was a little more hectic due to the numbers, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle,’’ she said.

Fleissner said she has always enjoyed working with players at the grass-roots level and monitoring their progress.

“The more competitive ones have a lot of athletic ability,’’ she said. “I enjoy watching them develop their footwork which is a very important aspect.’’

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