Stevenson badminton wins doubles championship over Fremd to secure an IHSA state title for the second consecutive year. This highlight is sponsored by BMO.
DeKalb high school is the host of the 2023 IHSA State badminton finals. Other DVC members were well represented throughout the weekend including sectional champions Naperville Central, Naperville North, Metea Valley and Neuqua Valley.
Metea Valley gets a strong showing from its top doubles duo
Metea Valley sees its top doubles team of Sri Battula and Anjana Viswanathan advance to the quarterfinals before falling to Neuqua Valley. That sets up a matchup with Sydney Stachovic and Vivian Zhao from Glenbrook North.
The Glenbrook duo wins the first set 21-12, but the Mustangs battle back in set two as Battula gets a smash. Riya Alwala and Devangi Kohli also picked up victories for Metea on day one before bowing out, as did singles qualifiers Tanmayi Sharat and Vamshika Bejawar. Viswanathan gives the Mustangs a lead late in the second set with a well placed shot just over the net.
However, Stachovic and Zhao are able to advance with a 21-18 win in set two despite a valiant effort from the black and gold. Metea Valley ends the tournament in 10th place.
Neuqua Valley in a three way battle for first place
Advancing to the final round over in the main gym, we see Neuqua Valley doubles duo Aarushi Choudhary and Kanyanat Vajworarat, who defeated Battula and Viswanathan in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats competing in the third place match against Sasha Neidigh and Lindsey White from York.
Neidigh and White get off to a fast start and take the opening set in a comfortable fashion by a 21-13 score.
Neuqua battles back in the second set as the Cats hope to force a third set. The blue and gold is in the hunt for a State trophy behind key points from their other doubles pairing, Yilin Yu and Cynthia Zhang as well as singles player Wanhan Sun. Choudhary and Vajworarat have only been partners for a few weeks, but the chemistry has obviously built quickly.
Despite a challenge from the Wildcats, York is able to secure the third place medals after taking the second set 21-18. Neuqua Valley stands in a tie with Fremd and Stevenson for first place with just a few matches remaining.
Shannon Xu ends her Naperville North career on a high note
To the consolation championship in a battle for fifth place where Gabrielle Chen from Downers Grove North takes on Carissa Chen, who took 6th place at State last season as a freshman at Waubonsie Valley. Carissa now attends the Illinois Math and Science Academy. The Warrior turned Titan tops her finish from a season ago, winning the 5th place medal in straight sets 21-10, 21-11.
Shannon Xu from Naperville North is in the third place singles match for a second year in a row. The senior takes on Maggie Chen from Hinsdale South, who is also familiar to this stage after finishing 5th in 2022.
Chen looks strong in the early going, showing off the power with a smash for the lead in the opening set.
Xu rebounds quickly, displaying the quickness that allows the Huskie to cover so much ground on the court before delivering a smash for the point.
Xu is able to seize control, darting around the court, unafraid to turn her back on her opponent with a spin move. She eventually puts the set away with another strong smash 21-10. Unfortunately, the match ends after one set after Chen is unable to continue due to injury, giving Shannon Xu the third place medal to cap off a great career for Naperville North.
Andrea Li goes back to back as singles champion
In the singles championship match, Andrea Li from Unity high school in Urbana returns to the title match for a third consecutive season. Li finished as runner up in 2021 and won the championship last season over Amanda Ng from Naperville North. Neuqua Valley sophomore Hannah George hopes to become the first Wildcat singles State champ after a third place finish last year.
George playing for more than just individual success, a win would ensure at least a tie for first place for Neuqua Valley. The sophomore gets off to a great start and wins the opening set 21-13. The first set lost by Andrea Li at State since 2021.
But against a champion like Li, you know it is not going to be that easy. The downstate junior battles back and rolls in set two 21-9 to force a third set to decide the winner.
Li, who defeated Carissa Chen and Shannon Xu to make the finals surges to a five point lead in set three, staring at a second straight State victory.
However, Hannah George digs deep and pulls back within one point after a hard fought rally that goes back and forth for over 30 seconds. George ends it with a shot that drops out of reach to make it 20-19 in favor of Li.
George with the serve and looking to even up the score. She goes for the smash, but Li digs it out. George does a great job to reach low for the return, but that allows Li to finish off the point into the open court. Andrea Li is the singles State champion for a second consecutive season after a thrilling match.
Stevenson uses doubles championship win to secure another State title
The 2023 team State champion would be decided by the winner of the doubles championship match as Anvi Harish and Katherine Li from Stevenson badminton take on Yejee and Yelang Lee from Fremd. Entering the final it’s a three way tie for first along with Neuqua Valley at 15.5 points. Stevenson badminton with the first set win 21-16. Li was a doubles champion last season as well with then partner Ema Akutsu.
Fremd, who finished as the State runner up last season battles back to win set two in dominant fashion 21-9. The doubles champion and team champion will be decided by the final match of the tournament!
The final point shows the talent of these four competitors with neither side willing to give in. Eventually a smash from Katherine Li finds the mark for the winning point as Stevenson badminton wins the 2023 State badminton championship for a second straight year. Neuqua Valley and Fremd tie for second place after another outstanding season.