The No. 3 ranked Mira Costa badminton team faced No 2 ranked Artesia in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals with a shot at the championship match. But they came up short in a 14-7 loss on May 8.

Arcadia went on to play No. 1 Diamond Bar in the championship, but lost to the top team.

“Everyone trained hard and showed a great fighting spirit,” said Mira Costa co-captain Eric Mei, who is a junior and ranked No. 2 in boys’ singles. “All of our hard work was reflected in our excellent performance in CIF.”

It was the final team match for senior Lulu Yu, who is the other captain on the team and was ranked in the top five in girls singles.

“This last match against Arcadia was an excellent ending to my four years on the Mira Costa badminton team; our team played super well and I am proud to have captained because of the camaraderie and teamwork this year’s team has exhibited as well as how much we’ve improved,” Yu said. “It’s bittersweet leaving the team but I’m so happy to be leaving the team with strong and capable leaders; I look forward to hearing about their season.”

It was a big improvement against Arcadia. Mira Costa had played them earlier with a much different result. They lost 18-3.

“Out of the 21 matches 18 of them went to three games which means it could have gone either way,” said third-year head coach McKenna Wilson. “All-in-all very impressed with my captain’s leadership of not giving up and motivating the team to play their best.”

“Even though we lost against Arcadia, we were close and everyone played really well,” said Vivian Liu, who is a freshman. “I’m looking forward to finding out what the future holds for our team.” 

Wilson was impressed in the Arcadia match with her No. 2 boys’ doubles team of Andy and Sammy Liu.

“At the beginning of the season they had a hard time communicating which cost them all their matches,” Wilson said. “Realizing this they asked for extra help with coordination on communicate and flow. They improved rapidly for the last three tournaments they placed third.”

She added, “Against Arcadia they took both games to three but lost in the end. However, Arcadia has the strongest boys doubles teams.”

It was a very fruitful season for the team overall, even in the loss. The team, which plays at the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club, finished third in CIF-Southern Section Open Division, which is the toughest division.

“In my three years of being head coach, this year’s team is the strongest, for we only lost one out of the seven matches we played and we consistently took first and second place in the five tournaments we played in this season,” Wilson said.

This week the team’s best players competed in CIF Individuals that took place last Tuesday and finished up the following day.

Eight players reached the semifinals following play after day one. Mei (boys’ singles), Yu (girls’ singles), Vivian Liu (girls’ singles), Moose Cohn/Tiger Hao (boys’ doubles), Andy Liu/Sammy Liu (boys’ doubles) will play for a spot in the finals.

Sophia Zhang/Julia Foster (girls’ doubles) were knocked out.

Besides the CIF playoffs and individuals, the regular season high point was their play in the Cerritos Tournament, which had 12 schools competing.  

“Cerritos challenged my players not only physically but mentally and emotionally for we started at 7:00 am and left the gym at midnight,” Wilson said. “All my players were exhausted. However, we made it to the finals in girls’ singles, boys singles, boys doubles and mixed.”

“Everyone on the team did really good job and improved a lot during this season,” said Hao, who is a senior and was ranked No. 2 in boys doubles. “Great season, great memory.”

Badminton is a sport that brings opportunity to a different type of athlete.

“To me coaching badminton is a unique sport because you don't have to be the fastest or the strongest player on the court, you just have to be the smartest,” Wilson said. “I am constantly coaching my players that placement of the bird is everything and reading your opponents.”

Wilson said her senior players have great accuracy.

“They can continuously place the bird in the right spot and anticipate their opponents next move.”

The sport also allows mixed competition that is rarely seen in other high school sports.

“It’s my first time being on a team, and it has been a very positive experience,” said Mira Costa’s Vivian Liu. “Having a group of people who were willing to support me made me want to work harder.”

There were 35 players on the varsity team this year.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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