“Drop. Smash. Win. Piedmont.” The PHS badminton team cheer. Five years ago, advancement to Division I may have been unimaginable for the then newly-formed badminton team. This season, however, with multiple seasons under their belt and a solid team dynamic, Division I was within reach.
“They get along well,” head coach Norman Lam said. “The team spirit is good.”
The team practices Monday through Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m, said badminton co-captain senior Daniela Siu, who plays women’s singles one. In addition, the team captains and coaches practice at a gym in Emeryville on weekends.
“Sometimes we switch it up [during practices], depending on whether we win or lose, like if we have to do conditioning or not or like drill,” said four-year team member senior Camila Yiu, who plays mixed doubles. “Personally, I like doing drills more than conditioning because you can hit more and play more.”
During team practices, Siu, badminton co-captain senior Nic Lowe, and returning player Tina Lee instruct more than they play actual badminton, Lowe said.
“Since there are few of us who were on an elite team a few years ago, we don’t really practice. Instead, we teach the other, newer players how to play and teach them what they’re doing wrong,” Lowe said.
Their games take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. This year, because of their new division ranking, the team faces harder and new competitors, Yiu said.
“Mount Eden, Castro Valley, and Arroyo [are] always tough [teams to play against],” Siu said.
The games against Berkeley High School and Tennyson High School were their best ones so far, Yiu said.
“There are three girls singles, it’s like tennis, three boys singles, three girls doubles, three boys doubles, and then three mixed doubles. So, in total, there are 15 different teams and basically to win you’ve got to get eight wins, at least,” Yiu said.
For each of these categories, doubles, singles, and so on, there are lines one, two and three, Siu said.
“It’s kind of a difficult sport to learn because it’s very detailed and you just have to keep playing it,” Siu said. “If you’re young and it’s only your first year, you’re not going to know how to really play that well.”
Lowe said that he likes the thinking aspect of badminton.
“You can hit hard, but that’s something that can be taught,” Lowe said. “Moving [the opposing players] around the court is something that can’t be taught, so that’s something you have to figure out yourself.”
There are only 30 players on the team this season, compared to about 36 last year, Siu said.
“I personally like the people on the team. It’s such a big team and you get people from different grades that you never knew went to your school or something, so [I like] meeting new people,” Yiu said.
Siu said that she hopes that the team can continue the hard work after she and the seniors graduate.
“Honestly I just hope that we keep up the hard work and our team keeps improving because we do have a lot of young people, but I think they’ll grow,” Siu said.
For those who are interested in playing badminton next year, Lowe said he recommends they try it out.
“I know a lot of people try out because they think it’s free P.E. credit and they don’t really try, but it’s the opposite, a lot of people get really into it,” Lowe said.
Siu said that there are misconceptions about badminton; she said that some people mistakenly believe badminton is not a sport and that this frustrates her.
“It gets to you, because you work really hard,” Siu said. “We do just as much work as another sport. Maybe not like on a high school level, but on a club level definitely.”
Along those same lines, Lowe said that they work very hard as a team and also said that they have a fun time during practices.
“The team is really not harsh. We work really hard but the spirit is up; throughout practices everyone will be laughing,” Lowe said. “There will be some instances where we’ll need to be like, ‘oh guys step it up, we need to be serious here’ but most of the time everyone’s having fun while they’re learning at the same time.”
All-in-all, Siu said that there is no friction at all.
“We’re all pretty laid-back and I feel like our personalities really mesh really well. We’re really supportive of each other and we always smile and have a good time,” Siu said.