By Michael Zhang
What happens when volleyball and tennis have a child? Badminton: a sport with lightweight rackets, a birdie flying back and forth, a net of medium height, smashes and aces, and resplendent displays of teamwork and skill.
This past fall season, the Boys Varsity Badminton team was one of only two of South’s teams to make it to playoffs. Coming off with a 14-2 record and a county finals appearance last year, the boys finally brought home a county championship to end South’s drought of fall sports merits. Team captains seniors Ernest Fok and Jason Wang led the Rebels to a 16-0 season, cementing themselves as a powerhouse team and an annual contender. Every victory was a blowout.
What was the secret to their success?
According to All-County senior Evan Lo, “It’s the incredible amount of talent and our strong teamwork that enables success in games and practice.” The badminton team is home to three All County players (Ernest Fok, Evan Lo, Josh Hom), a Nassau County Singles Finalist (Ethan Wu), and the Nassau County Singles Champion, junior Ray Ngan, who has been playing competitively since he was five.
However, badminton is not an individual sport. Teamwork, like in any other sport, is crucial for a successful season. The badminton team balances fooling around with making each other better. “What’s amazing is that everyone on the team is really likeable,” said junior Adrian Chen. “They’re some of the funniest people I know, but when they step on the court, they become some of the hardest workers I know.”
The boys always push each other hard in practice, give helpful tips during matches, and are not afraid to point out each other’s weaknesses. As a result, players know what areas they need to work on in practice. The doubles teams play confidently united, while one player can make up for what the other lacks.
The team also owes credit to Coach Janine Sadaka, who teaches as Lakeville Elementary School. Coach Sadaka wields an arsenal of strategies and tactics to teach her players. The players think of her as very approachable and supportive, but during matches, her unexpected inner self, described by Chen as a “bull,” comes out to push her players to their highest potential. An average team practice consists of running, countless drills, and more running.
This is the last season for some key players, so what should be expected of the team next year? Ray Ngan predicts, “The team will keep doing great, and we can probably have another undefeated season. We are an example of how hard work makes anything possible, and I hope the future Rebels can continue the same spirit”