Badminton: First win against Palo Alto raises hopes

March 24, 2017 — by Alex Yang and Jason Zhao
Photo by Vivien Zhang

Top player Stephen Ding return a shot during a recent match vs. Palo Alto.

Falcons take first steps to turn around season with a rebuilt team.

Cheers echoed through the gym on March 23 as the Falcons rushed onto the court to congratulate No. 2 girls’ doubles players Ellicia Chiu and Alisha Luo, who won both their sets 21-19. Their win secured the overall win against Palo Alto, the first win for the Falcons this season after a five-game losing streak.

Strong performances by all of girls’ singles and girls’ doubles teams contributed to the Falcons’ 18-12 victory over Palo Alto. The No. 1 girls’ doubles pair of Megan Fung and Catherine Zhang scored a crucial win after a tight match. They comfortably won the first set 21-12, but had a difficult time after the other team adapted and started clearing to the far corners. The Vikings managed to win the second set 21-16.

As the third set started, Fung and Zhang exploited their opponent’s slow rotation by dropping to the front and playing more aggressively, winning the third set 21-16.

“I'm really happy at our performance today not only because we won, but it was also the first time all-season that our rotation was decent,” Zhang said. “I think the biggest difference between this match and the ones we lost was that we didn’t get frustrated today and just focused on each point.”

On March 21, the Falcons suffered a technical loss to Lynbrook: the score was tied 15-15, but the Lynbrook Vikings won eight of the 15 matches while the Falcons only won seven.

With the injury of No. 2 mixed doubles player Austin Wang, there were some major revisions to the lineup. No. 1 boys’ doubles Stephen Ding and Josh Li and No. 2 boys’ doubles Mason Tian and Nicholas Zhang were split up to accommodate for the loss of Wang.

Ding went to play No. 1 boys’ singles while Tian took Wang’s spot. Li and Nicholas paired up as No. 1 boys’ doubles. Although this revision was hasty, it turned out in the Falcon’s favor as the new teams won all their matches: Ding won 21-11, 21-2; Tian won 21-17, 21-15; and Li and Nicholas won 21-16, 21-17.

“The lineup change has been pretty effective in helping us obtain that slight advantage we need over equally strong team in the league,” Tian said. “I went into the Lynbrook game expecting a large loss, but we managed to tie the score.”

However, a close loss from No. 1 mixed doubles Spring Ma and Jason Zhao was costly. They won the first set 21-13, but their opponents adapted quickly and won the next two sets 23-21 and 21-17.

“We went into the second set with confidence, so it was definitely very disappointing when we didn't pull through,” Ma said. “I feel like I let go a bit when I saw that we had a pretty good lead in the second set and eventually that change in momentum impacted the match a lot.”

On March 16, the Falcons played the Milpitas for the second time. After losing to the Trojans 18-12 on March 2, the Falcons were looking to get revenge, but after a close game lost 17-13.

Many matches went into the third set, including No. 1 girls’ singles Mana Shimokawa, No. 3 girls’ singles Katherine Lu, No. 2 girls’ doubles Alisha Luo and Valen Yamamato and No. 3 girls’ doubles Allyson Chang and Hannah Chang. However, the Falcons could not secure the third sets for all the matches, resulting in many close losses that led to the overall defeat.

As the season comes to the halfway point, the Falcons are looking to improve by reflecting on their earlier losses. With no games until April 18th, Li plans to use the time effectively and pick up the pace at practices to prepare the players for the second half.

“We will try to apply the footwork we drilled on from previous practices and to practice rotations for doubles and mixed pairs,” Li said. “Hopefully in the future we can beat the teams we originally lost to.”

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