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The Evanston badminton team hopes to improve on their fourteenth place finish in State last year with a strong showing at the State tournament scheduled for May 15-16 at Eastern Illinois University.
On April 23, the Kits participated in the 16-team New Trier Featherfest Invitational and took seventh place with 15 points. ETHS junior Emily Schnoll took third place, winning her match 27-25 and 21-19.
The Kits also participated in the Hinsdale South Hornet ABCD Invitational on April 25 and finished ninth out of 16 teams with 25 points.
“[That] is an achievement considering the tough teams that were at that invite,” (including New Trier, Andrew, Lincoln-Way Central) Schnoll said. Senior Nakimera Moore and Schnoll advanced to the championship bracket, but were defeated. Sophomore Lauren Teske took second place in the singles bracket. The regular season ended on April 29 with the Kits beating Lake Forest.
The Kits’ finished Central Suburban League conference play in third place with a 6-2 record, with losses against New Trier (April 22) and Deerfield (April 23). Schnoll said about those losses, “Of course we hoped that we could beat those teams, but when it comes down to it, we knew that they were going to be very tough competition.”
Before the conference tournament, Schnoll added, “I hope that for the rest of the year as a team we place first in [the conference tournament]. Since we are hosting it at Evanston, I think we have a much better chance because of the home court advantage.”
The Conference Invite was held on May 1 and 2 at Beardsley Gym in Evanston and the Kits almost reached Schnoll’s goal, placing second overall with 46 points. The notable finishers for the Kits were Teske at No. 8 singles and Kaylee Coughlin at No. 10 singles.
The Wildkits next competed in the Sectionals at New Trier on May 7, and they finished second with 10.5 points in the five team sectional. Moore placed third and Schnoll finished fourth in the singles tournament. In doubles, the team of Sarah Uttal and Katie Grassle finished fourth. These four players will represent the Kits at State.
Going into the tournament, Schnoll said, “I am so excited about playing in the State tournament. It was my main goal of the season to qualify. I know that the competition will be very tough and that the majority of the other players there will be coming into their matches with a lot more experience playing at that level.” She adds, “I think all of our players who are going to play in State know that in order to get good results we will have to work much harder than in the past.”
Looking back on the season as a whole, the Kits have a positive outlook. “I would say this season was very successful,” said senior Robin Saywitz. Everyone on the team really worked hard the whole season so I think we have a lot to be proud of. I would categorize this season as one of the better seasons that a varsity team has had while I have been on the badminton team.”
Heading into the State tournament, if the Kits’ four players compete the way they have up to this point, look for them to bring home their first badminton championship since 1992.