The Beginning of an Era for Northside Women’s Badminton
by Kimberly Grabiec
This is the first year that women’s badminton has been a part of Northside athletics. The team’s coaches, assembled by Northside senior Trenton Szeto, Adv. 804, consist of Szeto himself, John Szeto (Trenton’s father), and Kirk Montijo. Both Trenton and his father have had ample prior experience, having played casually and competed in tournaments. Montijo has not had much experience in badminton, but is a seasoned coach, with experience coaching Northside teams such as men’s 16-inch softball and bowling. Montijo considers his coaching style to be more laid-back than other coaches, and he focuses on teamwork and equal contribution from all team members. For this reason, the team does not have captains, and relies on leadership from the three coach figures.
Amundsen came to play at Northside on April 5 to start the season. Neither the coaches nor players knew what to expect in terms of their competition, but after long weeks of practice, the team was pretty confident.
The match began after school around 4:15pm. Before that, the Northside players prepared the gym by setting up badminton nets in rows. The Northside players were wearing all maroon uniforms and each had their own raquette. Once the Amundsen team came to the gym, both teams began warming up.
Finally, the matches began, and all eight badminton courts were filled with both singles and doubles teams.
Talullah Cartalucca, Adv. 910, and Georgia Bates, Adv. 910, played an intense doubles game. For the first match, both teams slowly shook off their nerves and played strategically. The Amundsen team seemed to be a little more nervous to play, and Northside came out with a 21-12 win. They were more confident than ever coming into the second match, but the Amundsen girls came back wanting the win. In the third match, Amundsen took an early lead, but the Northside girls eventually tied it up. It was close for nearly the entire match, but luckily, Cartalucca and Bates came through with a 21-18 win. The Mustangs had clearly been talking strategy during their practices; one scorekeeper of the day, Grace Nelson, Adv. 908, said, “A good strategy is to drive the opponent to the back of their side of the court, and then trick them with a soft tap of the birdie right at the net.” Many of the players implemented this type of strategy within the matches proving their skill and tactfulness.
Many other teams were stuck in a tie as well for several games, but most of the Northside teams came out with a win. Everyone made sure to have fun and not overthink the missed points, but the pressure was definitely on. Parents cheered for their daughters and excitement filled the gym with every win.
Players who were not in a match took the role of line judge and kept track of score. This kept the game fair and exact.
Throughout the rest of the day, Northside dominated Amundsen, winning fourteen games and losing only three. Regarding the team’s first competition, Trenton said, “The most fun part of badminton is figuring out your mistakes and finding a way to come back from them.” In general, Trenton described that he loves the athletic and strategic components of the game, which are typically not known until one plays the sport competitively. Currently, the team is practicing and preparing for the city championships, where they will compete against more high school teams from Chicago. Most of the other Chicago teams are also fairly new, but that clearly does not restrict their capability or success, as the Northside women’s badminton team proved in their competition against Amundsen.