Badminton: Falcons beat Gunn for first league win in a tiebreaker

March 26, 2019 — by Jeffrey Xu and Christine Zhang

The Falcons’ new coach and his drills have led the Falcons to better performance during games and greater morale; Falcons have a solid shot at staying in Division 1 this year.

Freshman varsity boys’ singles No. 1 Adrian Mar leapt into the air, executing a perfect smash deep into his opponent’s court, winning his match and earning the Falcons three points. His teammates cheered, and they pulled closer to a victory during the match against Gunn at home on March 14.

Along with Mar’s win were victories from varsity boys’ singles No. 2 junior Alvin Ren, varsity girls’ doubles No. 3 sophomore Manasi Garg and junior Katherine Peng and varsity girls’ No. 2 singles sophomore Katie Chen. While the team lost most of its varsity No. 1 matches, it compensated for the point difference through the several No. 2 and No. 3 wins.

In the end, the score was tied 15-15 with the Titans. However, due to a greater number of games won by the Falcons, they won in the tiebreaker, securing their first win of the season.

On March 12, varsity fell 25-5 to Cupertino with wins from No. 2 girls’ singles sophomore Katie Chen, No. 2 mixed doubles seniors AJ Lee and Serena Ying and No. 3 mixed doubles sophomore Wilson Fung and senior Sherrie Shen.

The Falcons faced Monta Vista on March 5 without Mar. The team sustained a 28-2 loss, their only two points coming from a win by Ren.

The Falcons originally planned to play Milpitas on March 7, but the game was rescheduled due to a conflict on Milpitas’s part.

The Falcons are 1-2 as of March 15, but head coach John Li, the father of freshman JV player Christian Li, is confident that the Falcons can improve and possibly compete to win the De Anza league, which also consists of Gunn, Monta Vista, Cupertino, Lynbrook, Milpitas and Palo Alto.

Li’s newly implemented policies and drills greatly increased the rigor of team practices and improved the team’s overall performance during matches.

Instead of letting players directly go into playing practice games during practice, he is focusing more on drills that target improving both footwork and stamina, aspects that he believes are essential to in-game performance.

“The efficiency of footwork is going to help us win games,” Li said. “Once you get tired, you can’t get into position, and all your shots will be delayed and behind. So that’s why I started having the team do running and climbing stairs to build that stamina and endurance.”

Li has also adopted a much more hands-on approach to coaching; almost every practice, he joins a game with the players in order to coach his practice teammates and opponents.

While he does not allow players to choose their partners and events as they had been able to do in previous seasons, he still takes player input on their chemistry with other players, as well as their relative strengths playing different events.

Li said he took the coaching job here since several of the students he used to coach, who were also alumni of the school, convinced him to do so.

Li is optimistic about the Falcons’ chances in the weeks ahead, when they will play opponents like Lynbrook on March 26 and Milpitas on March 28.

“I think we can stay in this league because we have some good players, and if we play our cards right, I think we can win,” Li said.

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