Badminton: Falcons to remain in upper El Camino division next year, prepare for league finals

April 29, 2019 — by Manasi Garg and Christine Zhang

The tension was palpable as girls’ doubles No. 2 seniors Mackenzie Lee and Serena Ying fought from behind to cut down Palo Alto’s 20-17 lead in the third game of their best-of-three set on April 18 at home. The two teams were tied at 14 points each, and the winner of this crucial match would determine the winning school.

Both Falcon and Viking athletes crowded as close as possible to the edge of the court and watched with anticipation as Lee and Ying scored five consecutive points, leading to a 22-20 victory and causing the Falcons to explode into cheers. The final match score was 16-14.

Although No. 1 boys’ singles freshman Adrian Mar and No. 1 mixed doubles sophomore Ryan Hsiao did not attend the match to play in the Junior International Trials, a badminton tournament held in Pomona, the Falcons still managed to pull through on No. 1 mixed doubles with captain senior Sherrie Shen and senior Nicholas Zhang, earning the Falcons three points that were crucial in the end.

As of April 29, the team had a 3-8 league record, with two wins against Palo Alto and one against Gunn. The Falcons have secured a spot above the last-place team with their second win over the Vikings, and the school is set to remain in the more competitive El Camino division next year despite initial concerns that teams in the upper league would prove too strong.

On April 25, the Falcons celebrated their senior day, themed Pokémon, as they faced Monta Vista at home. Only No. 2 boys’ doubles seniors Mark Guidry and Neo Chen won their game. The Falcons lost 28-2, the same score they had the first time they played Monta Vista this season.

The Falcons fell to Lynbrook in an away game on April 23. Mar was out with a knee injury, and the Falcons suffered a 24-6 loss opposed to their previous 18-12 loss in their first game against Lynbrook.

Because varsity team manager senior Victor Liu had a time conflict on senior day, the captains allowed him to play in the game against Lynbrook with junior Charlie Liu for No. 3 boys’ doubles. As a result, several ordinary doubles pairs were switched, and No. 1 and No. 2 boys’ doubles lost as well.

Reflecting on the season, captain junior Alvin Ren said that there were several games that ultimately allowed the Falcons to stay in the upper league.

“We won some really close games that we could’ve easily lost,” Ren said. “We almost got booted out, but it’s all good now.”

League finals are taking place on May 2, May 3 and May 4 at Cupertino High School. Thirteen schools across both the El Camino and De Anza divisions will each send 17 or 18 players to compete in five double elimination brackets, and the results of league finals will determine which players qualify for CCS.

The Falcons plan to use their wild card in boys’ doubles, which allows them to send No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 for that event. For every other event, they are limited to only their No. 1 and No. 2 players.

The team will send Mar with Hsiao, Zhang with captain senior Nathan Luk, and Ren with junior Jeffrey Xu for boys’ doubles; freshman Enoch Jung and sophomore Max Gendeh for boys’ singles; freshman Victoria Tso with sophomore Katie Chen and captain junior Joanna Wang with junior Rachel Yamamoto for girls’ doubles; sophomore Christine Zhang and junior Katherine Peng for girls’ singles; and Lee with Fung and Shen with senior Neo Chen for mixed doubles. Ren as well as coach John Li said that the team’s main goal is for Mar and Hsiao to qualify for CCS.

Ren said he is satisfied with the Falcons’ performance this season.

“I had low expectations going into the season since we’re playing in the upper league this year,” Ren said. “We actually did well against some schools and scraped out some wins to stay in the league, so I’m happy about that.”

Due to printing deadlines, the Falcon was unable to cover the April 30 game against Gunn or the league finals.