The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Varsity badminton loses first game of the season to Los Gatos

Carolina Yi
Junior Raymond Liu and senior Ben Xu talk mid-game.

The Los Altos High School varsity badminton team lost 14–16 to the Los Gatos High School Wildcats in their first game of the season on Tuesday, March 5.

The team was trying out new doubles lineups this game; senior Kaira Lai and junior Nandini Sharma were paired together despite describing themselves as better-seasoned singles players.

“We got our partners the day before,” Nandini said. “I was a bit nervous at first because we hadn’t played together before.”

“We were trying to figure out each other’s rotations,” Kaira said. “What worked was that Nandini would clear, then the opponent would drop and I would smash that drop and win.”

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Kaira and Nandini finished their match in two sets, winning the first set 21–17 and their second set 21–13, gaining 3 points for the Eagles.

In the singles games, team captain junior Ziana Merchant also won her varsity girls rank 1 match, winning the first set 21–6 and the second set 21–7. Regardless of her decisive victory, Ziana explains that she aims to improve her consistency.

“I’m happy I won, but as I ease into the season I’ll get a little less nervous,” Ziana said.

Going into the season, Ziana thought the team morale would be low. However, the energy the team brought into the game surprised her.

Sophomores Allison Ding and Matthew Lee-Asiong prepare to receive a serve. (Carolina Yi)

“We lost a good chunk of our team last year because the seniors graduated,” Ziana said. “But this year we have people who are constantly cheering their teammates on. The energy this year is good.”

During the game, the Wildcats’ encouraging energy and loud cheering for their teammates were noticed by the Eagles as well.

“The other team kept on shouting a lot but then we were like, ‘You know what? We can shout too,’” Nandini said.

The team’s supportive culture and organization have also been improved by many returning players taking up leadership positions. Last November, Head Coach Prateek Sarkar announced the leads of the team, including sophomores Allison Ding, Aditya Rajesh and Fiona Yao; juniors Iris Bao, Julian Chung, Raymond Liu, Ziana Merchant and Ethan Park; and senior Benjamin Xu. They will help with this season’s managerial tasks and model team values for incoming players.

“Leads are absolutely essential,” Sarkar said. “They participate in planning drills and team bonding activities.”

Despite this loss, the close game showed players that the skills they practice are slowly but surely making it onto the courts.

“We’re just beginning the season and learning shots, and I saw some of those being executed,” Sarkar said. “It was fun to watch. We’re going to have a great season.”

The Eagles will play their next game against Kathleen MacDonald High School at home on Tuesday, March 12 at 5 p.m.

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