Badminton coach implements stricter practices to hone skills

March 18, 2024 — by Sunny Cao and Nika Svizhenko
Photo by Bryan Zhao
Sophomore Eliza Lin keeps score during a match.
With coach Thomas Ching in his second year, the Falcons are set to continue rebuilding after a semi-successful 2023 season of adjusting to a new coach.

Head Coach: Thomas Ching

Last year’s record: 5-7

Recap: After placing second in CCS and third in the NorCal championship, girls’ doubles pair Samanvi Boppana and Sannidhi Boppana advanced to states. Alumni Jason Liu, Tony Guo and Evan Oaklander made it to leagues.

Key Matchups: Milpitas, Palo Alto, Monta Vista and Lynbrook

Star Players: girls No. 1 doubles and No. 1 singles Sannidhi Bopanna and boys No. 1 singles James Liu, girls No. 1 doubles and No. 1 mixed doubles Samanvi Bopanna and No. 1 mixed doubles Richard Li

Key losses to graduation: Jason Liu, Evan Oaklander and Tony Guo

Division: De Anza


The Falcons got off to a strong start, winning their second game against Lynbrook on March 12 and 18-12 against Monta Vista on March 8. 

Two star duos have been winning: Mixed doubles pair Samanvi Bopanna and Richard Li won their first match against Monta Vista 21-8, 21-8, and the Bopannas won their doubles match 12-15, 21-12, 21-15 against Lynbrook on March 12.

“We expected to win [against Monta Vista], but we didn’t realize we were going to win by that much,” senior captain Sannidhi Boppana said. “When we played Monta Vista last year, the score was around 15-14, but this year we won by a lot more, so I’m really happy about that.”

The team saw little success in the ‘22 regular season with an underclassmen-heavy roster and fared better in the ‘23 season after rebuilding with new coach Thomas Ching. Sannidhi attributed last year’s performance and the team’s improvement to better coaching. 

“The coach this year is more understanding and people are comfortable talking to the coach and asking him questions,” Sannidhi said. “He is actually teaching people what to do and how to do it and fixing people’s [mistakes].”

This year, Ching is putting more emphasis on an improved work ethic, attendance and drills. The No. 3 boys’ singles player, sophomore Ishir Gupta, said the lack of organization during practices compared to club badminton hindered the team’s performance last year.

“I play club badminton, so I’m more used to having more organized practices, but that wasn’t the case for school practice,” Gupta said. “I wasn’t learning as much from school practice last year. However, we’re having more drills, so I think I’m learning a lot more.”

According to Samanvi, players switch events according to which school they are playing.

“I’m confident in our team and I really do expect us to win four or five games this season. We’ve been training a lot, and I’m really confident in our players this season,” Sannidhi said.

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