Freshman badminton star places at NorCals

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Maxwell Zhang, Sports Editor

Freshman Linden Wang lunges for a birdie during the first round of his first match last week in the Northern California Regional Badminton Championship against Mission San Jose High School freshman Arav Mestry. Wang ended up winning after three sets of back-and-forth dominance by both sides. “My first-round opponent was the fifth-place finisher from North Coast Section,” Wang said. “I played pretty well against him and I was able to adjust to both the gym and birdie.” Wang won with the scoreline of 21-16, 16-21 and 21-7. (Photo: Maxwell Zhang)

Palo Alto High School freshman Linden Wang finished fourth in boys singles in the Northern California Regional Badminton Championship after dominating his way to the semi-finals, increasing his ranking after facing a series of ranked opponents, including a national champion.

Wang is the only Paly badminton player and one of 16 people to successfully qualify for the Central Coast Section and the regional championship, which was held on Saturday at Newark Memorial High School.

During the first round, Wang defeated Mission San Jose High School freshman Arav Mestry with a series of powerful smashes, winning 21-16 in the first set, losing 16-21 in the second set and winning 21-7 in the last set.

After the first round, Paly varsity Badminton Head Coach Arne Lim said he was impressed with Wang’s ability to adapt to his opponent’s strategies and adjust to different playing styles during the game.

“He [Wang] was able to make adjustments based on what was going on for him as well as what his opponent was doing to him,” Lim said. “He took his time to figure out what he needed to do to get the job done.”

In the quarterfinals, Wang continued his win streak against Irvington High School junior Ved Vedere, the fourth-place finisher from the North Coast Section, with scores of 21-13 and 22-20. 

“I played very well in the first set and played decently in the second set, closing out the [quarterfinals] match in two games,” Wang said.

However, in the semifinals, Wang faced Mission San Jose High School junior Ryan Ma who ended up beating Wang 20-22 and 14-21. 

“In the semifinals, […] I got off to a strong start and was able to get a 20-18 lead,” Wang said. “Unfortunately, I was unable to take the opportunity and win the first set. In the second set, I had a rough start, but I was able to catch up to 13-15. However, I made a few key mistakes and ended up losing.”

After beating Wang, Ma, who won Junior Nationals and Junior Pan Ams for U19 last year, went on to win the tournament.

According to Wang, he was happy with his performance at CIF, but he knows there are still many skillsets he needs to improve on.

“From this tournament, I will continue to improve my mental game, consistency, offense shots, and overall speed,” Wang said. “In two years, I hope to be the best badminton player in CIF and be able to win first place. I will continue training regularly and work hard towards that goal.”