Winning the first set in five of six matches, the Xavier girls tennis team set the stage early for a repeat of its Div. I state championship on Saturday.
The 5-0 win against Chaparral came at Glendale’s Paseo’s Raquet Center, and completed a sweep of the state's top girls tennis honors. Madison Clarke won the state’s singles title two weeks ago, and the team of Margaret Cohen and Scarlet Rush, won the state’s doubles championships.
"These girls, especially the top four players, play USTA national tournaments, so they're training at a high level every day," said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. "The depth on my team is what you need to win titles."
That depth will only lose dominant senior Emily Serrano, who defeated Chaparral’s Ally Breece 6-0, 6-1. Serrano will be attending Brown University next year.
"Emily is just a fierce competitor; she's feisty, kind of like myself," Martin said. "Sometimes that can be good for you, sometimes that can be tough, but she’s very passionate, and I love that on the court."
Clarke followed with a 6-1, 6-0 win against McKenzie Majerle, who was the third-place (consolation) winner in the state singles tournament. At the No. 3 seed, Scarlet Rush posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory against Gabbi Chernak added to the Gators’ lead.
"When they leave here, they have to leave and go play against each other in tournaments. So it’s neat for them to cheer for each other," Martin said. "So its good for them to be part of something bigger than themselves alone."
Martin said that’s why the Gators have team lunches and they help out with charities like the Quick Start program which gives tennis equipment to Cactus Run Elementary School.
“When you’re giving back to the sport, [it] makes you feel good,” she said.
The only challenge the Xavier girls faced was at No. 2, where Chaparral’s Rebecca Salaway was fending off Maggie Cohen. But before they could finish, Xavier’s Savannah Koss-Aposhian bested the Firebirds’ Meredith Finn, 6-0, 6-3.
After No. 6-seed Anne Maria Collins was able to break the serve of Sarah Downey to gain a 5-2 lead, she rode the momentum for a 7-5, 6-4 final.