The 2020 Arizona high school badminton season has been given a green light along with other fall sports to move ahead this month.
With that in mind, here’s a preview of the upcoming season, which begins Sept. 17, with a look at expected contenders in two divisions.
Gilbert Perry enters the season as the three-time champion with a 43-0 record in that span. While Sue Kwon is no longer on the team, junior Nikhita Jayaraj and senior Ashley Rodarte will hope to lead the Pumas to another title.
Within the same region, Xavier looks to continue its growth after a fifth place state finish last season. Despite losing three seniors, head coach Laura Forbes is confident in her newest batch of experienced players including Sophie Riviere, Lina Vanderway and Zoe Barton.
“We expect lively competition from Perry, who will be hungry for another title, and the very talented squad from Hamilton,” Forbes said. “Ready to rise to the challenge, we will be working hard to be the best we can be and proudly represent Xavier athletics.”
After finishing last season ranked third, Hamilton brings forth a great tandem between Rujuta Sane — last year’s singles champion — and Neha Shakir.
Basha also remains a team on top, with freshman Jordyn Mee already turning heads among coaches. “She’s [Mee] a freshman but going to be quite a force,” Lauren Regester said, Hamilton head coach.
Other notable players to look out for include Jade Halpin (Sunnyslope), Midori and Emi Pham (Chaparral), and Merilyn Li (Corona del Sol).
After winning its first state championship in school history, Mesquite is going forward without its coach Mark Hanna. New head coach Joshua Anson is taking over a strong team led by senior Sabrina Farias.
“She’s [Farias] one of our seniors and she’s returning after going a combined 28-0 in her singles and doubles last year,” Anson said. “She is an incredible student in the classroom and a natural leader on the court.”
Washington will be bringing back a large group of returning players after losing All-Arizona Badminton Team player Jordan Ludwig.
“These girls have been playing together since they were freshman and are excited about making their senior year a great one,” Wendy Ramos said, Washington head coach.
Barry Goldwater, Ironwood and Sunrise Mountain are also expected to bring strong teams according to coaches.
Dates for future Arizona badminton events such as the 2020-2021 State Tournament schedule are still being set up due to the ongoing pandemic.
The Arizona badminton season will begin on Sept. 17 with Mountain View vs. Shadow Ridge and Valley Vista vs. Skyline.