Dynasty talk swirls around Stevenson's badminton team
The Stevenson Patriots’ quest for back-to-back state badminton titles and the nonstop talk of being a dynasty that comes with it are now in order.
Stevenson capped off an undefeated season by easily besting Naperville North in points at the state championships, 25.5 points to 18.5, netting the school’s second straight state title.
“We had some extremely talented and experienced players (at state),” coach Grant Johnson told the Chicago Tribune. “They realized something special could happen if they put the time in and challenged each other.”
Leading the charge was sophomore Esther Shi, who repeated as the singles state champion by knocking off Naperville North’s Bhaavya Manikonda in the finals 21-14, 21-10. Shi finished the season a perfect 37-0 and has now run her two-year record to a combined 76-1 with two state titles.
“Esther doesn’t make the moment bigger than it is,” Johnson told the Tribune. “She can calm herself down when she needs to and excels at a unique level physically, point after point.”
In doubles play, Stevenson’s two top teams went head-to-head for the state title, with the team of freshman Emily Hu and sophomore Jenny Yang coming out on top over Jyotsna Harikrishna and Benna Li 21-7, 21-19, to likewise cap a perfect season.
In the end, the Patriots won every competition they entered this season, fueling increasing talk of a dynasty with their roster chock-full of freshmen and sophomores going into the 2019 season.
“It’s hard to predict the future,” said a cautious Johnson. “There are a lot of good kids at other schools. This group of kids has known each other for several years, and they committed to each other to get this moment. If they are willing to continue to commit to each other, they can make a special run.”