Badminton: Lincoln-Way West hopes to continue growth pattern
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media March 13, 2013 9:16PM
Lincoln-Way West badminton players (from left) Elizabeth Bradshaw, Beth Heise, Angela Bieser and Emily Keith. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
TOP AREA TEAMS
(in alphabetical order)
Lockport: The Porters, reigning SouthWest Suburban Blue champs, bring back one of the better 1-2 singles punches in the area in seniors Kelly Miotti and Sara Napoli. The pair return with state meet experience.
Lincoln-Way Central: Another contender from the SouthWest Suburban Conference, watch for the No. 1 doubles team Catrina Cimaroli and Jana Mudrock. At singles, Margaret Kolyvas and Maria Brown seem promising. Kolyvas played No. 2 singles last season as a sophomore, and coach Liz Carales called Brown “an unbelievable athlete.”
Lincoln-Way West: The Warriors have improved their state points total every season since the school opened. Watch out for singles player Beth Heise and the doubles tandem of Lizzie Bradshaw and Emily Keith.
Plainfield East: Lakshmi Tatineni returns as one of the most seasoned headliners in the area. Tatineni finished first in the Southwest Prairie Conference at No. 1 singles and won three matches at state. She sits with 77 career wins at No. 1 singles and should reach the century mark, barring injuries.
Plainfield North: The Tigers swept the SPC in dual meets and finished second in the conference tournament. Look out for Jean Bernasol, a state qualifier and winner of the SPC No. 2 singles title.
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:20AM
How do you build a successful badminton program from the ground up?
According to Lincoln-Way West coach Donna Thompson, in her fourth year steering West since the doors opened in 2009, the magic number is six.
“It takes about six kids. If you can get six kids that are dedicated each year — and by varsity you’ll have 12 — then you can compete,” Thompson said.
The 16-year coach knows better than most. Thompson played at Ball State and helped pilot Lincoln-Way Central to state second-place trophies in 2008 and ’09. So far, West has improved its state points total every year under her guide.
“Last year we were able to qualify all six from the sectional team to the state meet,” Thompson said. “It was a goal for me and very exciting. We finished 21st (in state) and I couldn’t have been prouder.”
West graduated five of its six 2012 state qualifiers but hopes to reload around the state experience of doubles player Lizzie Bradshaw and the rise of No. 1 singles player Beth Heise.
“Beth brings speed and good racket skills,” Thompson said. “She’s been working all season with a trainer, so we’re expecting good things from her at the No. 1 spot. It’s a tough spot, but I think she can handle it.”
Heise finished as a conference medalist at No. 5 singles last season as a sophomore. The junior said some of her best lessons come from scrimmaging her coach.
“She’s really hard to play because she is so good and she knows where to put you,” Heise said. “It pushes you to be better and learn those shots.”
For seniors Bradshaw, Emily Keith and Angela Bieser, being part of the first four-year crew to pass through West is a special feeling. Bradshaw is slated for No. 1 doubles with Keith, and Bieser is expected to contribute throughout the lineup.
“There’s a strong sense of loyalty with all our seniors,” Bradshaw said. “We’re all really tight.”
“We’ve known each other since first grade,” Keith said. “I’ve pretty much known — not just because I’m in yearbook — everybody’s last name since I was little. It’s nice to have that.”
The hope is their tight bond and recent success can push the group to the program’s first conference title, a tough feat with state powerhouse Andrew and Bradley looming large in the SouthWest Suburban Red.
“Conference was rough last year. We were so close (to winning),” Beiser said. “I feel like we can do it (this year). We were so close, a little more hard work and we can push through.”