Badminton team proves itself through several upset wins

March 28, 2016 — by Arjun Ramanathan and Alex Yang

Cheers thundered in the Large Gym on March 22 as the Falcons finally beat Lynbrook at home after years of futility against their rival.

The final score was 16-14, and the victory was a key part of a recent three-game winning streak, bringing their league record to 3-2 as of March 24.

“We've been pushed down countless times by Lynbrook over the past few years and [I am] so glad to see that we were able to get up and overcome this curse,” assistant coach Chris Do said.

Do said that players have patched up their weak points this season.

“Our girls has been a huge weakness over the last three years, but is a lot stronger this year,” Do said. “That was a key factor for beating Lynbrook.”

In the other two big wins in the win-streak, the team had to bounce back from a difficult start.

On March 24, the Falcons won 16-14 against Wilcox despite missing their star player, No. 1 singles player sophomore Stephen Ding, who was playing at the Junior International Trials.

“Wilcox, despite having the reputation of being an easy team due to them moving up from a lower league, has a few very good players,” senior doubles player Karen Chen said. “They are a very top heavy team in terms of how good their players are so our top players had tough games with our No. 1 doubles team going against a nationally ranked pair.”

The team’s game against Gunn on March 15 was the turning point of the early season after the Falcons lost to Cupertino and Monta Vista early in the season. The Falcons bounced back in this crucial third match to win 16-14 against a top-tier team.

At first, the match looked grim, as many players struggled to win, and the score was neck-to-neck with the rival Titans. However, No. 1 boys’ doubles players Partha Shah and Josh Li were able to clinch the close match with their win.

Shah said that the duo’s hopes for making it in CCS were high this year.

“Last year my partner and I placed second in league finals but did not do as well in CCS,” Shah said. “I really hope to change that, and I think we can do better as we both have been training consistently this off season.”

Adding on top of the doubles’ win, Ding swept his boys’ singles match, winning the first two matches of his best-of-three game with ending scores of 21-14 and 21-19. No. 2 boys’ singles freshman Nicholas Zhang’s performance was also instrumental in the win against the previously top Gunn team.

After a disappointing season last year, the team has already tied the number of wins it has gotten this year with the total number of wins it got last year, at three. With reinvigorated members and high hopes, it hopes to make a run for the top spot in the league this year.

“A lot of our players have been taking outside training over the off season,” Do said. “We have really improved on girls’ singles, doubles and boys’ singles.”

On March 26, some members of the varsity team took a 40-minute drive northward to Newark to play at the Newark Memorial High School tournament, one of the many tournaments in which singles players and doubles teams can earn points individually and rank by themselves.

“Tournaments are lots of fun because it's more team bonding time and it's an opportunity to play more schools and teams that we wouldn't normally be able to play during regular games against schools in our league,” Chen said.

Despite the stiff competition, Chen and her partner junior Jason Zhao, who play together as the No. 2 mixed doubles for the school’s varsity team, earned their way into a fourth place at the tournament.

According to Chen, the duo lost their first match and were moved to the consolation bracket. Over the next few matches, however, they duo advanced into all the way to fourth place finish at the tournament.

“I trusted that Jason would play his best so I wanted to play my best as well,” Chen said. “I didn't want to think too much about whether or not we would win anything, but I was confident that Jason and I had the potential to get far into the tournament.”