Even Madison Clarke’s mother is in admiration.
It goes beyond her obvious tennis acumen — the Xavier sophomore was named an All-American after she won the Division I singles state title in April after a runner-up finish as a freshman — it’s that Lori Clarke can’t help but admire how her daughter juggles her schedule.
There’s school — which is no “cruise control” at Xavier — plus tennis nearly everyday and on weekends, plus some semblance of a social life (after all, she is a teenager) and now some charitable work.
“I just get it done. I’m not really sure how I do it,” Madison said with a laugh. “I just somehow fit it in. Sometimes it hurts the social life on weekends with tournaments, but I feel like that in the end something will come from it.
“I’ve always tried to be calm. I’ve never been one to freak out.”
A lot does. These aren’t simply segments of her life she’s doing, they’re all improving; perhaps none moreso than her tennis game.
One of two sophomores in the country to be on the All-American list (chosen by the National High School Tennis Federation), Clarke’s only loss during the high school season came against Tucson Salpointe’s super sophomore, Caroline Amos, because Clarke was sick.
They met again in the Div. I singles championship match and Clarke won in three sets. She also helped pave the way for Xavier to repeat as team state champions, alongside Maggie Cohen, Scarlet Rush, Madison Majerle and Emily Serrano.
“I just kind of go out and play, I’m not the person who tries to think a lot in matches,” she said. “I’ve never been the player who’s nervous or analyzes too much.”
With a couple more tournaments this summer, she’ll begin piquing interest in colleges, along with trying to move her United States Tennis Association ranking up to around No. 40 in the country for her age bracket.
Interestingly, however, playing professional isn’t of interest to her at this point, regardless of how high school and college tennis unfolds. Her interest lies in marine biology, with an interest in aquatic life and animals which dates back to her childhood.
She’ll also be volunteering at UMOM, a charity organization which helps homeless families with finding shelter, day care and other services.
It’s all part of a master plan, and though tennis and fitness take an hour two nearly every day, she believes there’s no “burnout” factor at play, partly because she’s being pulled in umpteen different directions.
“I feel like I matured more and didn’t feel like an underdog anymore,” she said. “I felt it was a better year because I was more experienced juggling high school life with tennis. I’m improved and getting stronger.”
All-Tribune First Team
Player School Yr. Comment
Madison Clarke Xavier So. 2-time Tribune POY won Div. I singles championship and team state title
Margaret Cohen/Scarlet Rush Xavier Jr./So. Div. I doubles state champions for second consecutive season
Lidia Csernak Hamilton Sr. One of best in Huskies’ successful history; 3-time singles state semifinalist reached quarterfinals
McKenzie Majerle Chaparral Sr. Third place at state, played No. 1 singles and doubles for Div. I runner-up school
Maizy Porter Mountain View Sr. Div. I quarterfinalist was top-notch singles/doubles player past three years
Kristi Lee Desert Mountain Sr. Top-8 singles player all four years at state; won Kiwanis Tournament and DMHS female athlete of year.
Player of the Year: Madison Clarke, Xavier
Coach of the Year: Charles Johnson, Basha: Moved the Bears from off the radar last year to the best season in their history (11-3) and the school’s first team state tournament appearance with four sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup.
All-Tribune Second Team
Player School Yr. Comment
Kate Byrne Arcadia Jr. 13-4 in singles; 8-1 in doubles to reach Div. II quarterfinals
Rahgan Jensen/Katelynd Lesueur Basha So./So. Main part of resurgent Basha squad after 11-2 regular season and Div. I doubles quarterfinalists
Melissa Kahn Desert Vista So. Undefeated record in singles and one loss at No. 1 doubles; Tempe district tournament champion
Natalia Lombardi Notre Dame Jr. Undefeated in regular season (singles and doubles) defeated her sister for third place Div. II state
Alexia Lombardi Notre Dame Jr. Undefeated in regular season (singles and doubles) at No. 2 spot; fourth in Div. II singles tournament
Maia Castiglione Corona del Sol Sr. Two-time MVP, Tempe city champion and four-time scholar athlete
Apache Junction: Amanda Hardt; Ziria Rascon; Arcadia: Sabrina Barkdull; Aly Murney; Marcela Plasencia; Basha: Jewel Brundrett; Cactus Shadows: Annie Weber; Campo Verde: Laike Reader; Laine Sperbeck; Chandler: Julia Ortiz; Chandler Prep: Kelli Rockwell; Chaparral: Ally Breece; Gabbi Chernak; Rebecca Salaway; Corona del Sol: Hannah Pfotenhauer; Tien Tran; Desert Mountain: Rachel Bear; Courtney Hicks; Jenny Song; Lauren Weikle; Desert Ridge: Alexandria Ordoveza; Desert Vista: Yolena Carlon; Tori Kammerzell; Gilbert: Sydney Roman; Hamilton: Candace Rizzi-Wise; Highland: Ava Egan; Macy Jones; Horizon: Kaitlyn Ong; Jasmine Robinson; Ashley Snoke; McClintock: Kaylee Wong; Mountain Pointe: Mae Maiefski; Anastasia Pushkarenko; Carla Poplawski; Mountain View: Hanna Nelson; Katelyn Thornton; Notre Dame: Caitlin Railson; Sarah Eversman; Perry: Allie Shibel; Pinnacle: Anna Vijan; Poston Butte: Rebecca Karel; Carmen Silvestre; Queen Creek: Sarah Horst; Red Mountain: Nikki Mitich; Taylor Thornton; Danielle Vert; Saguaro: Bailey Archer; Michelle Fournier; Kalli Hopkins; Summer Sularz; Scottsdale Christian: Anna Homrich; Seton Catholic: Emily Jackman; Savannah Bates; Westwood: Lesly Herrera; Kyra Tatlow; Xavier: Madison Majerle; Emily Serrano.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.