It’s day 2 of the state badminton tournament and all 5 Naperville area schools are at still alive at Eastern Illinois with Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley in trophy contention.
Consolation Singles Bracket
We start in the consolation singles bracket as Neuqua Valley sophomore Gowri Salem faces fellow Valley rival Sonali Monoharan after both girls fell in the quarterfinals.
The Warrior sophomore gets the jump early with a quick smash, taking the first set by a score of 21-6.
Salem farring much better in set number two as she gets the quick smash for the point to pull within one.
But the lone Waubonsie Valley rep Sonali Manoharan pulls away and wins the 2nd set 21-14 to advance to the consolation singles final. Neuqua Valley still had a great tournament, finishing in 4th place as a team.
In that match, Manoharan faces Cindy Tang of Naperville Central.
Tang gets a nice point right off the bat for the early lead in set one.
But Manoharan is looking to follow in the footsteps of her sister Sonu, who won the consolation championship in 2015.
In the end it’s a straight set victory for the young Warrior, who takes home the fifth place medal after a 21-17, 21-15 win over her Red Devil opponent.
Consolation Doubles Bracket
Moving on to the badminton consolation doubles bracket as Metea Valley has partners Vyshnavi Nukasani and Vivian Kok face Nika Belova and Grace Geschiedle from Lake Forest.
A strong back and forth volley in the first set gets all four players involved until a low line drive return from Kok forces an error into the net as the Mustangs take set one.
But their opponents from Lake Forest will not go quietly, battling back to take the 2nd set and forcing a third and deciding set.
On match point, Kok’s serve forces another error and MV advances. 4 wins in the tournament for Kok and Nukasani, but they would fall to Hinsdale South in the consolation semis in three sets.
Naperville Central’s doubles pairing of Kathy Zheng and Nancy Liu are still alive on the consolation side after defeating Katherine Braun and Sakshi Rane of Neuqua Valley
Metea’s Nitya Nagarajan and Sophia Wang are the familiar opponents looking to adance.
Both teams battling hard throughout this Naperville themed battle, after a furious rally, it’s Central who picks up the point and the 2nd set victory to force a third set.
Mustangs backs against the wall facing match point in set three, but a perfect return from Sophia Wang hits the line, to tie the set at 21.
Now match point for Metea, and the return of Nagarajan’s serve is wide and out of bounds, Mustangs escape with a three set win over Naperville Central.
In the consolation doubles semi finals, it’s Grace Kennedy and Sophia Elbrecht from Hinsdale Central in the way of a finals appearance.
First set and Nagarajan the senior with a great return, nearly falling down but getting the point as part of a 21-13 win.
The Red Devils do battle back and take the 2nd set, but Metea moves on in set three after a 21-18 win, despite facing a four point deficit earlier in the set. Hinsdale Central finishes in 5th as a team.
In the doubles consolation championship, Hinsdale South sends Kaitlyn Hurka and Aimee Puz to the courts to challenge Wang and Nagarajan.
Metea Valley cruises in the first set thanks to the touch of Sophia Wang on this shot, Mustangs a set away from a consolation title.
But the Hornets swarm their way back, taking sets two and three 21-17, 21-14 to win the consolation championship. Metea Valley does finish the tournament in 6th place as a team, the best finish in program history.
Naperville North sitting in third place with doubles team Stephanie Liang and Taylor Zhou in the championship semi final against 2018 state runners up Benna Li and Jyotsna Harikrishna from Stevenson.
The Naperville North pair hanging in there with a nice point in the opening game, but they drop set one 21-12.
Too much power from the Patriots, who take the 2nd set as well 21-14 and get back to the state championship match, while Taylor Zhao is back in the third place doubles match for a 2nd straight year with Naperville North.
Doubles Third Place
Fremd sits one point behind Stevenson in the team standings and a win from Hannah Chen and Jenny Li in the third place match will clinch a state title for their team.
Taylor Zhao and Stephanie Liang are certainly not ones to roll over and they pick up an early point thanks to a strong smash from Liang.
But Fremd turns it around and grabs the opening set 21-16 thanks to a nifty shot that dies off the racquet.
Taylor Zhao suffered an injury in set two that caused a lengthy delay, but she guts it out and continues to fight as the Huskies get a point as her partner ducks out of the way on a shot that goes long.
But Fremd would not be denied in this match as Li and Chen close things out for their team, picking up the full point to put the Vikings in first place.
Stevenson is seeing double in the badminton championship doubles bracket for the 2nd straight season, and just like a year ago, Emily Hu and Jenny Yang win the state doubles championship over their teammates, 21-14, 21-9.
Naperville North star sophomore Bhaavya Manikonda in the championship semi finals for a 2nd consecutive season facing Rachel Ye of Fremd.
The talented Huskie not wanting to mess around makes quick work of her opponent, 21-10, 21-11 in straight sets to advance to her 2nd straight state singles championship match.
The most surprising element of the tournament is two time defending state champ Shibani Ram of Stevenson having to forfeit to injury during her match with Kellie Liu of Fremd, so it will be Liu and Manikonda for the state title, while Rachel Ye gets third via forfeit.
It doesn’t matter who the opponent is for Manikonda as she locks in from the start, forcing Liu all over the court, until she loses her footing and throws her racquet in desperation. Manikonda takes the first set 21-13.
But Liu made it this far for a reason and she is not going to make anything easy for her opponent, working hard and making a great shot near the feet of Manikonda for the point in set 2.
An impressive display from both players, but Naperville North’s top player shows her skill with a perfectly placed shot near the back line, the sophomore can sense the title in her grasp.
Match point with Manikonda serving, after a quick volley, Liu finds the net and Bhaavya Manikonda wins the 2nd singles state championship in school history in badminton and the first since Ellen Lin in 2012. Despite only having three teams in the state tournament, Naperville North brings home another badminton state trophy by finishing in third. Fremd wins its first team championship in ten years by a half point over Stevenson.
Check out how the Naperville badminton teams did throughout the season in the Girls Sports Highlights!
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