Lin Wins State Badminton Title For Lyons
-By Clark Brooks, Sports Writer
May 11, 2013 - Charleston, IL - It was a perfect weekend of badminton for Lyons Township High School sophomore Stephanie Lin. After six consecutive singles victories, the #6 seed was crowned state champion at the 2013 IHSA state badminton finals on Saturday afternoon. The win was not only an exciting achievement for Lin, but a first for the Lion’s badminton program as well. Lin became the first player to win a state medal in the program’s participation in the sport.
"I'm shocked. Basically, shocked out of words," Lin said after receiving congratulatory hugs from teammates and fans. “It means a lot to me. I’m really shaking right now.”In her only three-game match of the weekend, she defeated Hinsdale South senior Emma Adcock, the #5 seed, in an exciting sea-saw battle for the title. Lin dropped the first game 16-21 and came back to win the last two contests, 21-16 and 21-17 respectively. During the first game, Adcock, who had her mind set on finishing her prep career with a singles title after wining last season’s doubles trophy, appeared to have the upper hand on her underclassman opponent. She controlled the pace of the game and kept the shuttle deep in Lin’s backcourt as much as possible. Midway into game two, Lin piled on points by pulling her opponent in close to the net and then pushing her back deep to one corner or crushing passing shots past Adcock for winners in extend rallies. She had found Adcock’s weakness and exploited it generously. "I felt like I was being really aggressive and that was working for me,"Adcock explained. "She was getting me up to the net with the drops that I couldn’t quite get too. I got too tired."Frustrated, the drops shots took a toll on her mentally and physically, but Adcock went down swinging."You have to fight to the end," she said. "When it is your last shot, you got to give it all you got."Lyons' head coach Sue McClenahan had nothing but praise for her player."She played lights out, out of her mind to get here," she said. She was every bit as excited as Lin who she sang praises about. It was her first state title as a coach at LTHS. "She has a great cut shot. Part of her game [strategy] was to push her into the back corner and take control from there."Lin said she took up the sport just after the eighth grade. She was introduced to badminton while attending Chinese school as an intramural activity. The experience has improved her confidence and she intends to train even harder to return in the spring of 2014.Humble, she credited her teammates for helping her win this year's title. “My teammates were saying you can do it, you can do it," Lin said. Their mantra finally sunk and it made all the difference in the world to her. "They got it into my head that I'm solid and I belong here. Coach was telling me I'm here for a reason. When I realized that I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I can do this'."The singles' bronze medal was awarded to Naperville Central's Alisa Liu after Thornton Fractional South's Jessica Gomez withdrew from competition due to a medical injury. TF South won the team title with 16.5 points. Fremd and Naperville Central tied for second with 12 points.
- 05/11/2013, 10:00pm CDT By Matt Le Cren
The badminton state finals saw plenty of surprises Saturday and many of the biggest were sprung by Stephanie Lin. The Lyons sophomore pulled off three consecutive upsets en route to winning the singles championship at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Lin’s 16-21, 21-16, 21-17 victory over fellow 5-8 seed Emma Adcock of Hinsdale South capped a historic day that saw her become the first singles medalist in school history and the first sophomore to win the singles title since Hinsdale Central’s Karishma Kollipara in 2006. “I really wasn’t expecting that at all but I think I just came into today thinking that anything is possible,” Lin said. “I am just trying to figure out if I’m dreaming or not. I’m still kind of in a dream state. It was so emotional, especially that last point.” As one of only two seeded sophomores in the tournament, Lin was not expected to make a run at the title. “We thought as a sophomore Stephanie might feel the pressure and crack a little bit, but she didn’t,” Hinsdale South coach John Charters said. “Emma beat her twice during the season and it’s hard to beat someone three times.” Neither Lin nor Adcock expected to be battling for the title, but both had stunning upsets earlier in the day. Lin (34-7) knocked off top-seeded and previously unbeaten Hinsdale Central senior Ailynna Chen 21-17, 21-11 in the quarterfinals. “She’s one of my close friends,” Lin said of Chen. “But my coach [Sue McClenahan] said there are no friends on this court. It was just a mind game at the end." Lin’s mind was a strength throughout the tournament, including in her 21-17, 23-21 semifinal win over 3-4 seed Jessica Gomez (55-3) of T.F. South. Lin handed Gomez her only previous loss of the year during the regular season.“I’ve been working on [the mental game],” Lin said. “My coach says your best weapon is between your ears. I used to get really nervous but I’ve been working on staying calm and focusing on playing one point at a time." Adcock (48-9), who won the doubles championship last year with Brittany DeClouette, was attempting to become just the second girl ever to win both the singles and doubles title. Like Lin, she had upset two higher seeds earlier in the day, first eliminating No. 2 seed Angela Wu of Fremd 21-13, 19-21, 21-16 in the quarterfinals and then taking out 3-4 seed Alisa Liu of Naperville Central 21-18, 21-16 in the semifinals. Though Adcock had beaten Lin twice, both matches went three sets, and Lin had expended less energy in getting to the final. “Upsetting [Chen] was such a great win for her,” Adcock said. “We both had some really great wins, so I knew she was going to come out strong.” Despite winning the first set, Adcock knew Lin was capable of turning the tide. “I felt it changing, too,” Adcock said. “The first two times I played her I won the first set and she won the second. She just came out strong in the third game. She got me on a lot of drops in the front court and I started to get tired in the back court. It was a long day.” Despite the loss, Adcock is the first player in school history to win medals in both singles and doubles and just the third in state history to play in both singles and doubles finals. “It still feels awesome,” Adcock said. “In retrospect, I wasn’t expecting to get to the singles final. It was a great accomplishment.” “We were excited for her just to be playing in the singles championship,” Hinsdale South coach John Charters said. “That is a credit to her and the hard work she put in after winning the doubles last year.” The doubles competition was equally compelling as Reavis seniors Denna Zayed and Marissa Mangala knocked off T.F. South’s Shannon Pollard and Jenna Pasko 13-21, 22-20, 21-18 in a thrilling title match. “It feels amazing,” Mangala said. “Eastern Illinois is a great venue. All the teams we played were amazing. To win it all in front of everybody is such a great accomplishment. “After all the work our coaches did with us, we did it for them, we did it for Reavis. We had every reason in the world to put everything we had on the line and give it our all. To be the champions is just incredible.” Zayed and Mangala (46-4), who were seeded 3-4, had to go through some familiar opponents. They upset top-seeded and previously unbeaten Downers North seniors Emily Buhle and Emily Planek 21-18, 21-12 in the semifinals. Zayed and Mangala had beaten Buhle and Planek in the state quarterfinals last year. Buhle and Planek (47-1) beat Stevenson’s Emily Cai and Yein Lee 21-17, 11-21, 21-13 for third place. The Reavis pair didn’t lack for motivation against the second-seeded Pollard and Pasko (52-3), who had beaten them in the third place match in 2012. The two teams had played each other six times this season, with Pollard and Pasko winning four. “We knew we had to be on the attack with them because we didn’t want them smashing on us,” Mangala said. “We knew we’d be on our way when we were on the attack. We just wanted it so much.” T.F. South and Reavis each had a lot to celebrate. The Rebels scored 16.5 points to become just the second sports team in school history to win a state championship, joining the 1990 girls bowling squad. Naperville Central, which won its first trophy, and Fremd tied for second with 12 points.“Our depth carried us,” T.F. South coach Bob Tengstrand said. “It was a complete team effort and we clinched the title thoroughly. We’ve got a giant trophy and we’ll have a parade in town to celebrate.“But it’s bittersweet right now because Jessica Gomez got injured.”Gomez, a junior, was dominating her third-place match against Liu before she twisted her knee and couldn’t continue. The trainers believe it is an ACL injury.“I’m fine,” Gomez said. “My goal was to be top-four and win the team championship. We deserved to win. I was really proud of my teammates.”Pollard and Pasko became the first two-time medalists in school history, while T.F. South’s other doubles team, Jhennie Corpuz and Cassie Breshock (50-5), finished in the top eight after losing in the consolation semifinals to Reavis’ Riyan Yanes and Jessica Bachleda. “Our coach put all of his effort into us and we wanted to make him proud,” Pasko said. “It’s a big accomplishment for our team. Yanes and Bachleda went on to beat Buffalo Grove’s Julie Jambrone and Mary Zawlocki 21-14, 21-19 for fifth place, giving the Rams two pairs of state medalists for the first time. That enabled Reavis earn its highest finish ever. The Rams tied Downers North for fourth place with 11.5 points, just a half-point shy of a trophy.
Badminton | Hard work pays off for Hinsdale Central's Chen
April 23, 2013|By Bob Narang | Special to the Tribune
Hinsdale Central senior Brina Gartlan didn't hesitate to give up her top spot at singles earlier this season after advancing to the badminton state tournament the last two years. Gartlan passed the No. 1 singles baton to fellow senior Ailynna Chen. After moving to the Hinsdale area from Toronto last year, Chen showed glimpses of her potential but struggled with conditioning. "There were a lot of things slowing down Ailynna last year," Hinsdale Central coach Katie Maley said. "She wasn't accustomed to Hinsdale, her English wasn't the best and she was gassed by the end of her first game. I knew she had potential, but she had to get into better shape."Chen is fulfilling that potential after capturing the singles titles in Saturday's ABCD Invite at Hinsdale South. Chen improved to 33-0 following a dominating performance at the 16-team invite."I've been training so hard this year, and that has been the difference," Chen said. "My coach is helping me so much, and there's no shortcuts in being real good. You just have to train hard every day, no matter how tired you are. I hope to win state this year." Gartlan (27-5) made it to the fourth round of the consolation bracket at state last season. She won three of her five state matches and expects a better conclusion to her season after competing with the vastly improved Chen on a daily basis."My prediction is Ailynna is going to finish first or second, and I can at least get top 10," Gartlan said. "She's really good competition. Last year we were always going back and forth between winning and losing. This year she does win more than I do, but it has been good competition." Hinsdale Central enters Friday's West Suburban Conference meet at Downers Grove North with thoughts of a strong postseason, led by Chen and Gartlan."Ailynna and Brina work so well together," Maley said. "They've become good friends and really challenge each other in practices. They're both playing at a high level. It's been agreat year so far for the team. I'm excited to see what we can do in sectionals."
Hinsdale Central's Ailynna Chen aims for history
05/10/2013, 5:45pm CDT
By Matt Le Cren
One of the first things Hinsdale Central’s Ailynna Chen noticed when she moved here from Toronto two years ago was the relative lack of interest in badminton at her new school compared to its popularity in Canada.“I was kind of surprised,” Chen said. “No one knows anything about badminton.” That is changing thanks in part to Chen, who takes a 40-0 record and the No. 1 seed into this weekend’s state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. The senior is attempting to become just the second girl in school history to win the state singles title, joining Karishma Kollipara, who won the last of her three championships in 2008. “There is definitely a buzz around the school,” Hinsdale Central coach Katie Maley said. “She is definitely a little treasure that I found. She was a big surprise.” Chen never saw Kollipara play but she knows the name. “She’s heard about Karishma from [freshman] Coach [Carissa] Lynch, who coached Karishma, and just kind of how they both have the same presence on the court,” Maley said. “They are very calm, they kind of just move around and every shot seems to somehow go in that perfect spot. Unlike Kollipara, who lost only one match in four years, Chen was been a late bloomer. She played No. 2 singles behind Brina Gartlan last season and qualified for state, where she compiled a 2-2 record. Now fully acclimated to America, Chen has morphed into one of the top players in the state, taken the No. 1 singles slot from Gartlan (34-4), who is a 13-16 seed this year. Chen’s relentless workload has rubbed off on her teammates and fueled her rapid rise. “She has literally trained all year and you can see it,” Maley said.”She is so much stronger in her legs and her cardio. She’s in great shape and her shots are just so absolutely perfect. She has great placement, great precision. “She just flits across the court. I don’t know how she lunges into the splits and then is in the back corner in a matter of seconds, which is great.” Chen credits her improvement to her training with renowned coach Ilian Perez at Midwest Badminton. “Before it was just I enjoyed playing and I was good at it because I like it,” Chen said. “But after last year I started training with Coach Perez and he really pushes you hard and motivates you to train every day. I really want to play well to honor him.” Chen, whose parents are professors at Governors State, said she isn’t surprised at her success. Nor does she feel added pressure to preserve her unbeaten record, which included a hard-fought 20-22, 21-8, 21-16 victory over Hinsdale South senior Emma Adcock, a 5-8 seed, in the Hinsdale South Sectional final. “I feel like record is only one thing,” Chen said. “I don’t think of 40-0 so much. I just focus on playing well at state.” But don’t mistake Chen’s humble attitude for lack of desire; she definitely feels driven to win the state title. Her top competition figures to come from No. 2 seed Angela Wu of Fremd or 3-4 seeds Jessica Gomez of T.F. South and Alisa Liu of Naperville Central. “I really want to win state because I want to make my coach proud and I want all the work this year to play off,” Chen said. “And I want the people who have been supporting me to be happy.” Maley, for one, already is. “I’m very confident she will be in that final match,” Maley said. “I obviously think she’s going to be the champion.”