Mountain Pointe freshman Kiyoko Hashimoto is expected to be one of Mountain Pointe's top singles players as the Pride looks to get back to the state title game for the sixth straight season.

Jason P. Skoda/AFN

Pom Brown swears it is true this time.

Last year, the Mountain Pointe badminton coach said the team was in a rebuilding stage with the program after losing all but one senior.

The Pride went 14-3, made the state title game for the fifth straight year and finished as the state's runner-up in Class 5A Division I.

This season the lineup will feature all new players after graduation wiped out the entire varsity squad.

"Everyone is gone and this is a rebuilding year," said Brown, who has a 47-4 record in three seasons. "We didn't get many players for tryouts because they think it is hard to make the team because we are so good."

The Pride will field a quality team every year. Maybe this squad will struggle at the start but there is no question that Mountain Pointe will be a better team by the time state tournaments come around.

"You never know how a team is going to be," Brown said. "At the beginning of last year I had a bunch of softball players who became good badminton players.

"It is going to take a lot of hard work for everyone. They need the practice time and get some match experience."

Desert Vista coach Jeremy Williams knows not to take Brown's woe-is-me approach too seriously.

"Pom Brown is a great coach and she will have that team ready," Williams said. "They are going to be right there at the end as always."

Mountain Pointe has won four state titles since 2003 with the last coming in 2007 while finishing as runners-up the last two seasons.

If the Pride is going to keep up with that standard it will rely on two freshmen to get there.

Kiyoko Hashimoto and Vaishnavi Koka will be among the team's top players with senior Mary Kenny pushing them.

Other varsity candidates for singles and doubles are a trio of juniors in Lahela Decaires, Alyson Coker and Ciara Gonzales.

"There is talent and desire there, but none of them have played a varsity match," Brown said. "We will have to see how they do once we start playing."

Williams has the Thunder on an impressive roll as well and for once might have the better team in this friendly Ahwatukee Foothills rivalry.

Just don't tell Williams that.

"We are just trying to get better every single day," the seventh-year coach said. "We have a good, experienced group coming back and all varsity spots are open. The best players will fall into their positions."

Desert Vista has made the state tournament five straight years, including semifinal appearances in 2007 and 2008, and returns all but one player from last season's team.

Brown singled out Phoenix Xavier, Goodyear Millennium, Scottsdale Chaparral as state contenders and even threw Desert Vista into the mix.

Williams, however, isn't going that far just yet.

"I know it is cliché but we are not going to get ahead of ourselves," Williams said. "We are getting fit, learning and everyone has had a great attitude."

Desert Vista's top players should be seniors Delany Stratton and Ashley Goldberg. Senior Samantha Urban and junior Susan Tu were a state-qualifying doubles team last season, while senior Loryn Green will fit somewhere into the lineup as well.

The regular season starts on Monday for both squads, but they won't face each other in the regular season finale on Oct. 7.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.