Freshman badminton girls return to practice with new hope, purpose despite loss to Neuqua Valley

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As Tuesday night’s match against Neuqua Valley began, East’s freshman team appeared set for their first evening of the season against another school. Less than an hour later, the team walked away with a sense of what to do in order to find a victory in the future. “Since I was a kid my cousins and friends would play so I guess that how I got interested. I definitely want to improve and play all four years,” freshman Sofiya Fatima said. Photo by Ben Schmidt.

Dressed in their navy blue Badminton shirts, the Oswego East girls’ freshman team traveled to Neuqua Valley High School on Tuesday. This was was the first match for East against another school. The game consisted of 15 matches with 10 of them being single matches and five of them doubles matches. The team was unable to come away with victories in any of the 15 matches that they played, although they were able to take away some learning and strategic experience.

Over the course of the evening, freshman Anna Rousonelos — with her partner — was able to keep pace with her opponents. Unfortunately, the pair lost their matches with final scores of 19-21 and 11-21.

“You start to realize things about your opponent that you didn’t realize the first round, and they start to realize your weaknesses, so they were able to get us pretty easily,” freshman Anna Rousonelos said.

For some of the girls, badminton is a sport they’ve been playing since they were a lot younger. For other girls on the team, it’s a sport they learned about just recently and are playing competitively for the first time.

“The first games for freshman are usually pretty nerve-racking, so I just want them to walk off the court feeling that they played their best and that they feel like they could feel confident and comfortable going to the next game we have,” Head Coach Shannon Day said.

This is why during practice time since the tryouts, a large portion of time was spent working on learning the rules and different strategies for the game. Day said that they do this since a lot of the girls don’t really know everything that goes into each match, and one of the players recognized this as an area where the girls could improve.

“In practice, we’d work on specific techniques until we perfected it,” freshman Kayla Kim said. “Then we’d also play games to practice how the actual games would go.”

Kim’s partner for the match was fellow freshman Sofiya Fatima, who has been playing badminton since she was younger due to her cousins and friends. Of their two matches against NV, the girls lost 7-21 and 8-21.

“They were really fast and it seemed like they had practiced a lot, and it seemed like they worked really well together,” Fatima said.

Kim added that it was also a fast-paced game for her and that she had to focus on coordination and communicating with Fatima during the match itself. These are things that she and the rest of the girls were given a chance to say to their coach after they had walked off of the court.

“After we finished, I was asking all of the girls what they want to work on at practice now, so I feel like now that they’ve played an actual team now they can see what another team does really well and how they can improve to work on that,” Day said.

Even with the team’s loss, all of the girls stayed engaged and cheered each other on from the sideline, no matter the score. As the matches concluded and the coaches shook hands and the girls congratulated each other, Day was able to see the positive outlook on the match that had just taken place and how they can take something away despite the loss.

“Of course I enjoy winning, but I just like to see the progression of the girls basically having no experience and then feeling confident and comfortable on the court and knowing when to hit and what kinds of hits and stuff like that,” Day said. “So just seeing them more confident as players.”  

Ben Schmidt is a sports writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

The team will get to work before their next match which takes place on Thursday against Waubonsie Valley at home.

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