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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Boppana sisters bring home girls’ doubles NorCal badminton title

Samanvi Boppana
Samanvi (far left) and other varsity girls after winning medals at league finals on May 4.

In the May 18 NorCal finals against a team from Mission San Jose High School, junior Samanvi Boppana and her older sister, senior Sannidhi Boppana, won two out of three sets with the scores: 21-19, 17-21, 21-19. With this win, the duo became the first ever badminton NorCal winners from the school, and the first of any sport in the last seven years since volleyball’s NorCal win in 2017.

Through the 5 rounds of three-set matches that they played at the tournament — hosted at Newark Memorial High School — the duo only lost two sets. 

A big advantage that Samanvi and Sannidhi have compared to the other doubles is their extremely long history playing together and excellent communication and teamwork that they’ve built up over the years.

Last year, the duo finished 3rd at NorCals, just falling shy of the championship.

“The final match was really close but I’m really proud that we were able to win out, and I’m especially happy that I could do it with my sister,” Samanvi said.

Although the badminton team as a whole had a 1-11 season after the loss of valuable seniors, Samanvi stood out for her skill on the court and her willingness to help other varsity players improve.

Samanvi has a long history with the sport beginning at age 10. These days, she plays at the national U17 level.

Her serious training in the sport began in 2021 at Bintang, a local badminton club, practicing on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with two and a half hour practices on the weekdays and 3-hour practices on weekends.

One recent competition that Samanvi participated in was the JIT (Junior International Trials) competition in late March. This competition — unlike other events over the year-round competitive badminton season — does not count for overall rankings and is mainly for the qualification to represent Team USA in the Junior Division Pan-Am. If they qualify, players will play teams from countries all over the Americas, including Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru. The top four singles, top two doubles and top four mixed doubles qualify for Team USA from this competition.

Samanvi narrowly missed this opportunity, placing 5th in the girls’ doubles event, although not performing as well in the other events.

Although she has not been playing a lot of tournaments recently due to the school season, she was ranked 23rd in girls’ doubles, 60th in girls’ singles and 159th in mixed doubles in the USA badminton rankings as of April 1 — though she noted that the rankings are often skewed because players that begin their competitive careers earlier have a longer time to accumulate points. 

In preparation for her competitions, Samanvi trains rigorously at her club practices, which includes practice drills, practice matches and athleticism work.

“Ever since I first started competing, my strength (smashing) has always been a power of mine,” Samanvi said. “One of the most important aspects of my club training is learning to improve my footwork, which is a huge skill on a badminton court.”

In comparison to the school league, Samanvi said club badminton is much more intense skill-wise and physically, as players often compete in multiple events for multiple rounds of competition within a span of two days.

 In the school team, each player plays one match that is up to three sets, and the rigor is not on the same level. While the badminton team’s season has come to an end, Samanvi is continuing her training in preparation for the Junior Nationals in the summer.

“Although competitive games are much more challenging and intense, school games have the unique aspect of allowing me to play with my friends at school and have a buffer from the nerves of big competitions,” Samanvi said.

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