Carrie Davis is in her 17th season of coaching badminton at Scottsdale Chaparral. Phoenix Greenway coach Heather McDonald is finishing up her first.
On Thursday, experience was on the side of McDonald and her Greenway team.
Chaparral’s young and inexperienced squad — all first-year varsity players and just one senior — was no match for a Demons team made up of six seniors. Greenway posted a 5-2 win in the 4A team state championship match at Independence High.
“They’re all seniors and they’re fantastic,” Davis said about the Demons. “They’ve been waiting for four years.”
Four years ago, Chaparral won its first of three straight state championships by beating Greenway. Thursday, the Demons put the Firebirds on the ropes quickly, nearly winning the title before doubles play.
Each of Greenway’s top four players — Jamie Tsai, Manfei Jiang, Haydee Cruz and Mandy Merkley — won, while junior Sarah Plitt notched a victory at No. 5 singles for Chaparral. Firebird junior Christina McGuire split her first two games with Lori Finlayson, but refused to give up the title too easily, winning the third game 11-7.
“She’s not the kind of girl that’s ever going to give in,” Davis said. “She was fighting for a fourth state title.”
It was soon apparent, however, that McGuire’s victory was less the beginnings of an epic comeback and more a delay of the inevitable.
Both of Greenway’s top two doubles teams took control of their matches even as McGuire was finishing up, and the honor of the clinching win went to Cruz and Merkley, who defeated their No. 2 doubles counterparts 15-5, 15-8.
“(Watching the final points) was nerve-wracking,” McDonald said.