Badminton caps off season with high morale despite mixed PAL results

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Will Kriner

Junior Clara Zhong competes in a singles match during the PAL tournament.

Will Kriner, Staff Reporter

Coming off of a 5-9 record in the PAL Bay this season, Burlingame’s badminton team competed in the annual PAL tournament at Aragon High School, with a number of top players making their mark at the competition.

On the first day, girls’ and boys’ singles, as well as the mixed doubles, played the first two rounds of their respective brackets. The boys’ and girls’ doubles played their matches on Wednesday, May 3.

One of Burlingame’s headliners for the tournament was junior Jayden Ma, who played in boys’ singles. In his first match, he displayed a dominant performance over his Menlo-Atherton opponent, aggressively dictating the pace of play. 

“[I won] because of where I placed the birds and the way that I was able to move [the opponent] around,” Ma said. 

In the next round, Ma suffered a close defeat to his competitor from Aragon, which relegated him to the lower bracket where he competed on Friday, May 5. 

In girls’ singles, junior Clara Zhong and freshman Allison Duh also found success. Both had a calm demeanor and calculated approach to make it past the first round of the competition.

As for the mixed doubles, seniors Curtis Chong and Fiona Lee were unfortunately eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

“We worked well together, and we knew how to play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Chong said. “Unfortunately, [Lee] was slightly injured, so we weren’t able to perform at our very best.”

Boys’ singles player Stephen Hwang was also eliminated in the first round, but has shown great improvement in the past year.

“Last year, [Stephen Hwang’s] skills weren’t as refined as they are now,” sophomore Tyler Leung said. “Now, he’s really, really good.”

Overall, the team saw mixed results throughout the season and PAL tournament. Ultimately, team captain Erika Jiang believes precise placement is important to elevating the team’s record. 

“The only way you get better is by perfecting every shot,” Jiang said. “It’s almost like a game of chess. Placing those birds perfectly so that your opponent can’t reach them.”

Although it may not be winning all of its matches, the program is confident that it will improve in the coming years under coach Sal Banquiles, who will return next season.  

“We don’t let losses put us down,” Chong said. “[Banquiles] always helps us through tough times, and always gives us pointers on our areas for improvement after our games.”

Next year, Ma will most likely step up as the new captain in place of Jiang and should be a driving force behind the team’s ascent. 

“Next year, I’d say we’ll be even better,” Ma said. “We’ll have a younger generation of freshmen and sophomores. This season, though, I’m really proud of the team and what we’ve accomplished.”