Melissa Kahn

Desert Vista sophomore Melissa Kahn only needs to prove herself in the postseason after losing just once in the regular season in her first two years.

By David Jolkovski, AFN

Melissa Kahn has the regular season down.

The postseason, however, is still a proving ground for Desert Vista’s No. 1 singles player.

She missed it entirely her freshman year after becoming ill and then after an undefeated regular season as a sophomore, Kahn bowed out in the Division I quarterfinals.

Kahn, who is an All-Tribune second-team selection, has two years left to get the second season figured out and has shown the promise to be a state title contender.

“Her future is bright,” Desert Vista coach Angel Singer said before the season. “I do believe with continued training with her pro and with us at Desert Vista she can be a state champion by her junior year.

“She has the focus and skill to make it happen.”

Madison Clarke has her mother’s 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 — 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 more so 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 Division I singles championship match and Clarke won in three sets. She also helped pave the way for Xavier to repeat as team state championships, 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.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @jskodaAFN. Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at or (480) 898-6576.

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