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I think the reason Serena knew Ash as a kid is to simply have a way to potentially age her down in the Anime Canon, imagine it. if Ash picked up a 16 year old trainer who NEVER got their starter Pokemon, it would be extremely jarring to the young side of the audience, with that said, they're probably using Serena because it felt a tad redundant to have 2 Gym Leaders following Ash for so long whilst Iris is unbelievably inexperienced in comparison.
I know im comparing a White game canon to Black game canon, but Iris is the 8th Gym Leader, and Cilan was a 1st Gym leader, latter makes sense as some sort of mentor-type character whilst also knowing how to properly feed (well, his Gym does also work as a Cafe) and take care of Pokemon due to being a Connoisseur, mirroring Brock to an extent.
But Iris...just wasn't that memorable, most of her pokemon were gimmicks, Emolga who swaps itself with any pokemon and is generally a brat who tries to get her own way with her charms, Axew who is basically a baby who had desires to fully evolve...but never did, and Dragonite...a Pokemon that is probably one of her powerhouses who just popped out of nowhere. Yep, there's Excadrill, but it seemed like he was supposed to be there as her original trump card to feasibly bulk her team up.
EDIT: I like to Point out that Axew seems surprisingly easy being kidnapped by..Scholipede, Durant, Team Rocket...probably others, further cementing it as a baby despite typing show otherwise.
Don't you think it's weird that Iris was trying to become a Dragon Master, despite only having 2 Dragon types? it's like a more major form of incompetence compared to Misty, but at least most of her Pokemon can't breathe/battle on land and her Psyduck as a Deus Ex Machina until Togepi, so she's justified.
Ash's 2 other female companions were coordinators, but Contest episodes were a nice break to an extent and actually gave goals for them, a bit nice to see some non-main character developments and stuff like outfits every once in a while.
RSN: Plucky9, Total: 2444. KoL: Plucky, currently a Pastamancer ACNL/3DS FC: 4897-5920-6758 Ricky of Farm