Badminton Extraordinaire

April 23, 2009 — by Karen Lyu

Varsity teams are usually studded with juniors and seniors. Saratoga’s varsity badminton team is no different with one significant exception—freshman Jeffrey Kuo. Not only does Kuo meet varsity standards, but he surpasses them. Coach John Phung considers him “the best player on the team.” Kuo plays the varsity boys singles 1 spot.

“Every time he plays, [Kuo] has a fan base; at least 20-30 other players watch him,” said Phung.

Kuo who has been playing badminton for four years and attributes his skill to all the hours he puts into the sport. He trains at badminton academies GGBC and Smash City outside of school.

“They teach me new techniques and help me improve consistency when playing against others,” said Kuo.

Kuo was introduced to the sport by his uncle at the age of 11 and from there developed an intense passion for the sport. As if to prove his devotion even further, Kuo will be going to Indonesia to train for a month this summer.

“I’m going the week I get out of school and the training [will be] pretty intense,” said Kuo. “It’s six hours a day, six days a week.”

One of the reasons Kuo works so hard is that he has a list of personal goals to fulfill. He hopes to win singles for the 2009 U.S. Junior Nationals Championships, an annual tournament held in July where all the best players from around the U.S. go to compete. Kuo is currently ranked 5th in the nation in the U15 age group.

“I want to play consistently and beat certain players [which will help me reach my goals],” said Kuo. “There are many different types of players. [For example,] people who can do long rallies, [but] I am the player who’s quick on the court and has power.”

Despite Kuo’s strong leadership, the Falcons are struggling so far. Starting with a loss to Gunn High School March 31, the team has not yet won any matches, suffering defeat after defeat. Gunn, Monta Vista and Lynbrook were all victorious against Saratoga with scores of 21-9, 23-7, and 21-9, respectively.

Despite losing to Palo Alto 18-12 on April 15, Phung has not lost confidence in the struggling team. “Skill level, discipline, and team spirit” are the three things that contribute to a winning team, he said.

“We have much room to improve; [however,] we are seeing some positive signs in the team,” said Phung. “My goal is to perform better the second half of the season. I think it is attainable.”

The Falcons played Wilcox, Cupertino and Monta Vista this week. Due to printing deadlines, the outcomes of the games were not able to be printed.

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