Birdies and rackets: girls’ badminton team on the rise

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Townsend Harris is home to numerous teams that vary from those with large numbers of members like the track team to small teams with fewer players. One such small team that has been extremely successful in the recent years is the Townsend girls’ badminton team. This team has lost just two games in the last three seasons, including this year.

For the past two seasons, the badminton team finished first in the Queens division with records of 10-0 and 9-1 during league matches under coach Matthew Reid. The team made playoff runs both years, falling short to Hunter College High School in the semifinals last year. Prospects for a similar, extended playoff run have been looming in the minds of returning players and new players alike.

At the open of this season, the girls came in to find out that Matthew Reid would not be coaching for personal matters. Instead, Townsend Harris girls’ varsity soccer coach of 13 years Vaselios Sioukas would be stepping in to take the helm. Albeit big shoes to fill, Coach Sioukas came in with the right temperament and saw to a smooth transition. Senior and team captain Angela Gao described, “[Vaselios] is a mild and extremely friendly person.”

In addition to saying goodbye to an incredible coach, the team saw six vital seniors graduate who had played five of the seven starting roles. With so many spots to fill, the team’s success hinged on players who had not previously held the spotlight. Junior Julia Grygorczuk, who joined the team as a freshman, is one such player. She recalled, “I saw a poster on the locker room door… and the thought of being able to play competitively seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

As a freshman, Julia played in second Doubles, and last year she played third Singles behind seniors Stacey Zhang and Vanessa Wong. This year, she boasts a 5-1 record as the team’s first Singles player. To this success she attests the work ethic of young and new players. Julia remarked, “We have a large amount of rookies who have never played badminton competitively. Regardless, these girls have been working extremely hard and we see good things in our future.” Angela added, “Our new recruits are learning proper techniques and are preparing for when the current seniors year leave.”

Nevertheless, the badminton team is hungry this year and are focused on winning it all. You can catch the girls’ badminton team next Wednesday go up against Flushing High School looking for a huge victory. Townsend’s one loss this year has come by the hands of Flushing, but our girls are just hitting their stride.