This Badminton Isn't Made for Picnics

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 9, 1999 | Go to article overview

This Badminton Isn't Made for Picnics


Byline: Mike Miazga

Survey time.

How many people can honestly say they know what a "clear shot" is.

No, it doesn't have anything to do hunting or guns.

Give up?

A "clear shot" is a type of maneuver utilized in a badminton match where you use a very high arching shot to drive your opponent to the back of the court.

Not the back of the court at Uncle Archie's family reunion picnic either.

We're talking high school badminton here.

While it is easily the most under publicized high school sport around this area, there are still plenty of girls who enjoy participating in badminton throughout the four Unit District 46 high schools.

"I was introduced to it in eighth grade at Kimball Middle School and my mom played it in high school, so I went out for the team," said Larkin's Zenobia Kapadia, now in her fourth season on the team. "It's a lot of fun. The people and the whole team are fun."

For Larkin senior Alexis Washington, playing badminton was also a family type affair.

"It's kind of a tradition," said Washington. "My older sisters Alison and Adrianne played her in the 80's. I learned this through them."

Streamwood No. 1 singles player Vanita Bagga started her career at Glenbard North as a freshman, before playing the last two seasons at Streamwood.

"I just wanted to try something new," said Bagga, who narrowly missed qualifying for the state finals last year.

As it pertains to the U-46 programs, players with previous badminton experience when they enter high school are in the vast minority.

"A lot of the kids are brand new and haven't played before," said Bartlett coach Michelle Zappia, who played badminton at Larkin. "We have to start from scratch. You have to show the kids how to hold the racquet and work on footwork and go over all the rules."

Taking that extra time to bring players up to speed, ultimately puts teams at a disadvantage, where as areas like Naperville and Downers Grove (two badminton hotbeds) receive players who have extensive badminton experience.

"Some get experience in middle school PE class, but other than that, until they get here, most have limited experiences," said fifth-year Streamwood coach Joyce Juenger. "In places like Downers Grove and Naperville, there are more facilities where you can get more experience. We started from point zero five years ago and almost sent kids to state last year."

And don't think for a minute badminton is as easy as that neat little box you buy in a sporting goods store to cart over to Grandpa Roy's 80th birthday party.

"It's not the backyard game like everyone thinks it is," said Larkin No. 1 singles and doubles player Joy Phu. "Yeah, it's tough. It's tough when a serve hits you right in the face. There is a lot of running involved and a lot more strategy."

Zappia agrees.

"People don't realize it's not the game you play at picnics," she laughed. "It's a very aerobic sport. The way it's played is extremely competitive. You could run over a mile covering the ground out there."

Larkin coach Ivana Lhota knows a lot more goes into the game than just returning the birdie over the net.

"Sometimes these girls could play three games in two matches and they get tired," said Lhota, who is also the assistant girls tennis coach at Larkin. "You have to have endurance. It's not just returning shots. You have to be smart and use drops and smashes and crosscourt shots. You have to be clever. One has to be quick and agile to get to the birdies. It's not an easy game when you get to this level."

Now, make sure you have a No. …

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