BY ALISON CHURCH
On March 3rd, Benicia Highschool’s badminton team embarked on their very first game of the season. Before the team faced off against Amador Valley Highschool, they gathered to discuss strategies to keep in mind amidst the nerves and pressures of their first game of the season. Benicia teammates gave each other advice on how to communicate with your partner, how to rotate around the court, how to be assertive, and how to keep a positive attitude. Finally, Varsity players entered the court and faced off against their opponents. In the end, Benicia lost with an overall score of 3-14. Despite the tough competition, Benicia fought relentlessly throughout the whole game.
Team captain Tristan Kao was one of the three players to win his match. Tristan lost 16-21 in the first round, came back strong with 21-16 in the second round, and finished off his opponent with a 21-12 score in the final round. He had the entire team’s eyes peeled on his tense but compelling singles match. Partners Aidan Sherry and Benji Ryujin won both rounds of their match, earning an impressive 21-12 and 21-7 score. The third and final Varsity player to win was Chika Kuroda. She scored 19-21 in the first round, but won a close 22-20 in her second and third rounds, winning her the whole match.
In an interview with partners Michael Munakash and Chaena Aquino, they stated that the highlight of their game was when they had a scoring streak of 6 in a row in the first round. Things slowed down for them in the second round, resulting in an overall 11-21 and 8-21 loss. Their greatest challenge was “not moving around the court enough.” Varsity player Angelikah Edpalina stated that the highlight of the game was “seeing the comradery of the team and working with my partner, Alicia Hendricks, for the first time.” Edpalina’s greatest challenge was “not shuffling back to get the birdie enough” and “not showing my frustration whenever I missed a shot.” As a first game, she felt that “it opened the team’s eyes to see what we needed to work on and what we were doing well early on in the season.”
Varsity player Alana Doi’s game highlight was “a point I scored off of a smash.” Her greatest challenge was “moving around the court and getting to the correct position to hit the birdie.” She recalls that it “was very challenging for her” because it was her first time playing singles: “I began to get upset at myself and lost focus. I think I could have done a lot better and am not satisfied with how I played but am excited to improve my skills. I think this team is doing very well this season because I see that everyone has a passion for the sport and is driven to improve. I think the team could work on getting better at rotations and communication.”
Every Varsity and JV player brought their all to the game, and despite losing, the game shined a light on Benicia Badminton’s strength as a team and as people.