Xavier’s Clarke, Chaparral’s Ponwith win D-I tennis titles


Revenge.  Domination. And a feel-good comeback story.  This year’s big-school tennis had all the ingredients of a good soap opera during the state high-school championships over the weekend.

The boys’ competition in Division I had a little bit of all three.  James Ponwith from Chaparral High School came back to win the singles title after having to settle for state runner-up last year, while Jeremy Auh and Chase Victor overcame a disastrous second game to climb back and win the doubles title for Desert Mountain High School.

Ponwith beat Brophy Prep’s Zach Cihlar, 6-2, 6-3, and the No. 1-seeded doubles team of Auh and Victor went to three sets – 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 – before finally overcoming Brophy’s Christian Franco and Michael Cowan.

And on the girls’ side in D-I play, it was total domination by Xavier Prep as the Gators, who wrapped up their third 14-0 regular-season record in a row, claimed both the singles and doubles title – and did it in steamroller fashion.

Top-seeded Madison Clarke, Xavier’s No. 1 singles player for the last three years, successfully defended her state singles title by running past Chaparral’s Rebecca Salaway, losing just one game on the way to her 6-1, 6-0 victory.  And on the doubles court, Xavier played both sides of the net as the school’s No. 1 duo of Maggie Cohen and Scarlet Rush beat No. 7-seeded teammates Leena Sweiss and Savanah Koss, 6-1, 6-2.

It was the third straight state doubles title for Cohen and Rush.

In Division II, the dominant play of Yash Parikh took center stage in the boys’ singles competition, as the Salpointe High School sophomore rolled through the state tournament without losing a set and topped off the run by beating Derek Jones from Thunderbird High, 6-2, 6-0.

In the boys’ doubles, it was an opportunity for revenge that a couple of Catalina Foothills High School players capitalized on. Quinn Gardner was part of the duo that took home the title this year, pairing with Nate Rasmussen to beat Adrian Cordova y Quinoz and Nick Silverstri from Notre Dame Prep to enable Gardner to claim the championship he failed at last year when he lost in the semi-finals.

On the girls’ side, top-seeded Kirtana Bhat from Catalina Foothills had little trouble capturing the singles title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 2-seeded Sabrina Barkdull from Arcadia High, and the doubles title went to Kelsey Brown and Alli Knox from Ironwood Ridge High School after they defeated Notre Dame’s Caitlin Railson and Sarah Eversman, 6-3, 6-4.