Badminton title to Chaparral; Xavier’s Welch is 5A champ

You know the high school fall sports season is about to transition into the winter programs when badminton holds its state finals.

The rest of the fall programs get started on their playoff march beginning early next month.  But badminton has already named its individual and team champions for 2010.

And the Firebirds are back on top.

This year, Chaparral High School got a chance to avenge its loss to Xavier Prep in last year’s semifinals and won the 5A badminton championship by defeating Xavier, 5-2.

And it wasn’t like the Firebirds expected anything less, even though Xavier came into the playoffs with just two losses all season.  Chaparral was the team that handed the Gators those two losses.

This was the sixth team state badminton title for the Scottsdale school; the last one came in 2007.  The unbeaten Firebirds beat Chandler HS to get to the finals, while Xavier had to get past Tempe’s  Corona del Sol HS.  Both Chandler and Corona are getting closer to that crown, as Corona exited the playoffs last year after the first round and Chandler went down in the quarterfinals.

In 4A, No. 2 seed Greenway HS in Phoenix upset No. 1 Sunnyslope HS, 5-3, for the team title.

Chaparral rode to the 5A title on the strength of four singles victories and a doubles win.  The singles winners included Stacey McGuire (11-8, 11-0), Alex Hoffman (11-0, 6-11, 11-12), Allison Gordon (13-12), and Courtney Foltz (13-12).

Hoffman and Foltz also teamed up for the doubles win (15-13, 15-13).

But it was Xavier’s Cate Welch who came back the next day to claim the state singles title, defeating Stephanie Vermillion from Millennium High School in Goodyear, 11-2, 11-8.

Vermillion had beaten Welch, the top seed in the state tournament, when they met in the Sunnyslope tournament earlier in the season, but this time the senior finished the first game strong by taking the final seven points and used that momentum to carry her to an early lead in the second game.

It was a second consecutive finals disappointment for Millennium.  Last year, Millennium’s Carolyn Houser lost in the finals to Emily Harris from Desert Mountain HS.

Chaparral took charge in the doubles competition, as their unseeded second team stepped up to win the doubles title.  It was Hoffman and Foltz taking care of business again, just as they had in helping the Firebirds to the team championship.

Hoffman and Foltz rose to the occasion when Chaparral’s top doubles team of Tacey McGuire and Ashleigh Foltz lost in the semifinals.  The Firebird duo defeated Callie Branyan and Brianna Layser from Gilbert High School, 15-0, 15-6, for the doubles title.