Fremd edges out Stevenson to win IHSA badminton state championship with Neuqua Valley in third

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The IHSA state badminton championship returns to DeKalb High School for the 2024 tournament. Neuqua Valley, Stevenson and Fremd in the hunt for the trophy following the first day despite Neuqua dealing with injury issues. Many local schools had strong showings including a trio of top ten team finishes. This highlight is sponsored by BMO.

Metea Valley tied for ninth place as the Mustangs were led by Pragya Iyer in singles who won three matches over two days and doubles duo Sri Battula and Devangi Kohli, who made it to the consolation quarterfinals before bowing out.

Naperville North took eighth place overall as freshman Kelly Hu made it to the quarterfinal round before suffering back to back losses. Kotryna Petreikyte and Abby Wang made a consolation quarterfinal run in the doubles bracket.

Megan Moreno and Zoey Tian from Naperville Central each won three matches for the Redhawks who finished in the top 15.

Tisha Dubey from Waubonsie Valley won four matches for the Warriors before being eliminated in the consolation quarterfinals.

Andrea Li three-peats as singles state champion

Surprisingly, the singles state championship match has no effect on the team championship standings as both players in the finals are the lone representatives from their schools. Senior Andrea Li returns from Uni High in Urbana as a back-to-back champion as she faces junior Carissa Chen from IMSA. Chen started her career at Waubonsie Valley before transferring as a sophomore.

Li has been borderline untouchable in her badminton career, losing only one set since her freshman season in 2021 when she finished as the state runner up. She starts off with a 21-9 win in set one.

But Chen has been on this stage before as a two-time state medalist. The Titan defeated Hannah George from Neuqua Valley in the semi finals as she makes a great shot across the court for the point.

But Li is just too much to handle. The first ever badminton champ from central Illinois takes home her third title in a row, becoming just the fourth three-time state badminton singles champion and the second to win three in a row in IHSA history.

Hannah George ends her season with a win

The third place match is a big one in terms of team standings with Neuqua Valley junior Hannah George facing Fremd freshman Sophia Lin. Heading into the match, Fremd is tied with Stevenson for first place with 18 points, with Neuqua in third with 15.5 points.

The Wildcats got solid contributions from Amber Shi, Saniya Joseph and Yilin Liu to get them into the position to earn a state trophy. George looks poised after finishing in third place as a freshman and as the state runner up to Andrea Li last spring. She hangs on to win the first set in a tight one, 21-17.

Sophia Lin battles back well in the second set. A series of great shots and a smash gives her the 21-19 win to force a tiebreaking third set.

George trails late in the third set, but she digs deep and battle for every point. A strong overhand shot finds the floor as she surges into the lead.

These two give it their all with the third place medal on the line. An impressive series of low shots near the net are dug out before George is able to reach for returns again and again. The Wildcat as able to secure the victory 21-15 for her third career top three finish.

Fremd takes a late lead with a third place doubles win

To the doubles final matches as Fremd has another representative in the third place match with Keerthana Rajkumar and Jeslin Vettikkatt against seniors Lindsey White and Ella Glosner from York.

The Dukes are locked into fourth place as a team regardless of the result of this matchup, but White and Glosner want to end their careers with a win and earn a point with a nice smash down the middle to win the second set and force a third.

The Vikings duo with a nice series of shots to take a narrow lead in the tiebreaking set as Fremd needs a win to have a chance at the state title.

Trailing 20-19, the York duo is unable to make a return, giving Fremd the victory and an all-important half point advantage over Stevenson heading into the final match of the tournament.

Luna Han and Kanyanat Vajworarat add their names to the record books as doubles champs

Neuqua Valley freshman Luna Han and junior Kanyanat Vajworarat are in the doubles championship match after a stellar season as a duo. Anvi Harish and Adalyn Shum from Stevenson have battled their way to the final. Harish was a doubles state champion last season with Katherine Li. A victory gives the Patriots another team state title as well.

Nivedya Nair and Ruhi Sachar already took home fifth place for Stevenson as their teammates get off to a strong start in the opening set.

The Wildcats have a response, showing great teamwork all tournament as Vajworarat helps finish off the first set with a smash. Neuqua takes it 21-16.

In the second set, the Wildcat junior shows her veteran savvy with a quick return. She is back on the state floor after finishing fourth with partner Aarushi Choudhary a season ago.

But the Patriots are too strong to go down quietly, using a similar maneuver to earn the point and stay alive.

However in the end, the Wildcat duo proves to be too powerful. Luna Han with some strong overhead shots to keep the opponent on their heels before her partner finishes off the win with a smash after a 21-14 second set victory. Neuqua Valley wins the third doubles state championship in program history. Fremd hangs on to win its fourth IHSA state badminton championship with Stevenson in second place. Neuqua earns the third place trophy, the sixth state trophy for the program and third in the past four seasons. Another memorable season of badminton is in the books.

For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!