Girls’ Badminton Impresses Against Rivals and Wins it All

The girls’ badminton team won the championship after finishing the regular season with a record of 9-1 after defeating division rival Seward Park Campus High School.

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Ida Wang was Stuyvesant's singles winner, beating Tech's Angela Tao. Additionally, this season, the girls' badminton team tied with Seward to make it to playoffs, after defeating them in their second game of the season.

The last match in the game against Seward Park Campus High School pitted juniors Eliza Wu and Tracy Chang of Stuyvesant against Jinhui Zhou and Keyao Li. It ended in favor of Stuyvesant, two sets to one. Wu and Chang, the third best doubles team in the league, certainly defended their title. Stuyvesant pulled ahead of their opponents quickly in the beginning of both sets. At one point, the Seward players hit the birdie out three consecutive times.

Coach Hugh Francis was especially happy about the timing of the team’s win. “It’s better [that we won now] because [winning] provides momentum for the playoffs. Us ending like this shows that we are ending [the regular season] on an upward trajectory.” Defeating Seward at home secured Stuyvesant the sixth seed, with Seward taking the fifth. This means that the two teams won’t face each other until at least the semi-finals. This is important because Seward knocked Stuyvesant out in the quarterfinals last season.

This season, the girls’ badminton team won the championship, defeating Seward, after finishing the regular season with a record of 9-1. In the final few games of the season, the team easily handled Martin L. King Jr. High School, Inwood Community Campus, and the High School of Fashion Industries without losing a single set.

Just as Francis anticipated, the momentum from the win over Seward carried over to the first playoff game, with the team defeating John Dewey High School at home, 4-1. This game presented little challenge for the team. The only dropped match was the first doubles match, which senior Janie Huang and senior and captain Mickey Yu lost to Qiling Hou and Zuying Wu Wu. Throughout the rest of the games, Stuyvesant played calmly and consistently. In the end, the John Dewey players were unable to hold long rallies with Stuyvesant.

Even before the final result was apparent, Coach Francis felt confident. He said, “I was reasonably confident; we haven’t played them in a few years.” He also remarked how his roster’s superior depth helped the team win, with the team having a large enough roster to play excellent singles and doubles players.

The team was even more dominant in the quarterfinals, defeating Flushing Campus High School 5-0 without dropping a single set. Flushing were the third seed and undefeated blowout winners in their division but proved to be no match for Stuyvesant. Flushing’s seed position was misleading because their division lacked any real competition. The closest match was the second singles match between senior Ida Wang and Flushing’s Chen Xiang Wang.

The first set between the two remained very close the entire time, with Ida Wang ultimately managing to keep herself two or three points ahead and winning the set. In the second set, however, Ida Wang found herself eight points ahead early, but Chen Xiang Wang brought the score to 18-14 with a mid-set surge. Fortunately, the damage had already been done, and Ida Wang closed it out 21-16.

The win at Flushing meant the team faced Hunter on their home court. In recent years, Hunter had been a consistent finalist, and Francis recognized the threat, saying, “Hunter are perennial finalists; I am glad we scrimmaged them earlier in the season. We will have to play our very best if we are going to win on Monday.” Despite the threat Hunter posed, Stuyvesant won 3-2, sending them into the finals against Brooklyn Tech.

In an intense semifinal, Stuyvesant dominated Hunter in the doubles matches. The deciding match was the second singles match between Wang and Hunter’s Sandra Yu. Wang has been a consistently excellent performer throughout the season and did not disappoint. The players battled in three close sets as their respective teams cheered them on, knowing the spot in the finals was on the line. Both Wang and Sandra Yu had impressive games as they tried to force the other to make a mistake. The flow of the game constantly switched from hard hits that produced some nice returns to clever, looping hits right next to the net. Wang finally triumphed by switching sides on Yu, making it impossible for her to get to the birdie in time.

At Franklin D. Roosevelt High School the team battled school rivals Brooklyn Tech for the title and won 3-2. Stuyvesant’s two doubles teams, composed of Huang and Mickey Yu and Wu and Chang, beat both of their Brooklyn Tech counterparts. Wang was Stuyvesant’s singles winner, beating Tech’s Zoe Chow on a long deuce.

Wu and Chang lost their first set to Tech, but in the next two sets were, at times, utterly dominant. They started going on streaks, taking point after point with their brilliant teamwork and constant coverage of each other. The opposing Brooklyn Tech doubles pair was so stunned they even missed a high five after Chang buckled one of them with a great hit to the other side. It was Chang and Wu’s comeback win that won Stuyvesant the championship, and after the final point was won, the entire team flooded the courts.

Though the game appeared to be an underdog story for Stuyvesant, Coach Francis said, “Based on reputation it was an underdog, but when you look at Tech and who they had to beat to get here, we were the best team they played. We have beaten three undefeated teams to get to the final.”

He then looked forward to next season, saying, “I am optimistic about next year even though we are graduating three truly special seniors.” The seniors graduating this year are Wang, Mickey Yu and Huang. Huang and Yu have played as a doubles pair for years. Along with Wang, they have been absolutely sensational. A special highlight this season has also been the rise to prominence of the new doubles team, Wu and Chang. They will be around for another year after placing third in the individual doubles tournament when they had only worked together for a few months.

During the trophy presentation ceremony, the PSAL made a speech to Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech. He said, “There are no losers in the finals.” Whether or not that is true, in this final, the players of the Stuyvesant girls’ badminton team were certainly the winners.