CIF Badminton Southern Section Open Division Championships


Sophia Li, Sports Editor

In a highly anticipated match up, the Apache Badminton team faced off against Walnut High School at the CIF Southern Section Open Division Championship on May 13. As one of the fiercest athletic teams competing for Arcadia High School, the Apaches came in with a thirst for victory. In a home game against their biggest rival, they put up an insurmountable effort, but it came down to a tight finish of 10-11, with the Apaches winning the runner up CIF title. Walnut High School did not crack under pressure, winning the Championship title. 

However, the road to the CIF Southern Section Open Division Championships was one fought with hard work and dedication.

To prepare for this game against Walnut, the Apache Badminton team practiced every day and made sure to stay hydrated on and off [the] court. On the days leading up to the match, we encouraged each other to sleep and eat well,” said Boys Varsity Badminton team player, junior Caleb Xu.

Determined to represent Arcadia to the best of their ability, the Apaches had to make their way to the final championships. In order to do so, they qualified by winning games like their 21-0 home game against Mark Keppel High School on May 10, along with their win against Cypress High School. Prior to the match up against Walnut, the Apaches had shuttled their way across all their stiff competition, consistently winning matches as the top-seeded team. 

I was nervous because the Walnut High School Badminton team is very strong, and I wanted to be able to defend our school title,” expressed Xu. 

On the day of the Open Division Champions known as “Championship Saturday”, both teams came in with a perfect record. When the Apaches flaunted their  22-0, the Mustangs matched up just as well with a 15-0 record. Coming into the match, the Apaches had one goal in mind: pull off a three-peat win for their 3rd straight CIF championship title.

The only thing in their way? A team of Mustangs equally hungry for the title. 

In badminton, each match is won by winning 21 points against the other team, which counts for 1 point towards the overall score. Despite starting behind the Mustangs with a preliminary match score of 15-21 on Court 2, the Apaches fought back on Court 3, pulling away with a score of 21-12 against the Mustangs. The two teams kept each other at bay throughout the beginning games, across all of the courts. About one hour into the game, the overall score of the two teams was 5-3, with Arcadia in the lead. 

After the initial lead, the Mustangs put in a surge of effort in the game play, making sure to close the gap as quickly as they could. Two hours and thirty minutes into the championship, the overall score was marked with 7-6, with the Apaches only one point ahead now, the Mustangs close behind. At this point, tension was high and both teams wanted to surge ahead. The Mustangs were starting to gain momentum, but the Apaches were determined to keep their lead, and increase it if possible. 

By 11:00 a.m., it was apparent the Mustangs were going for a comeback. Tied neck and neck at 9-9, it was anyone’s game now; the Mustangs proved to be valiant by regrouping and evening out the score, but the Apaches were still in the running to secure the coveted title. Across all the games – singles, mixed doubles, and doubles, each game was played down to the wire. Every birdie that hit the ground resulted in an eruption from a crowd, on either side of the gym. 

The game coming to an end was very stressful to watch. It felt like a gamble. If we won the game, we would be undefeated for three years. However, losing would be the end of our winning streak, and the school’s reputation in badminton would decrease. Sitting back and watching every point that was lost or won, it was terrifying as the results got closer and closer to who would win the match,” said spectator and Junior Varsity player Lilian Gu. 

The final game that determined the winner, the boys doubles, had it all – sweat, self-motivating talks, fist pumps, and the roars of the crowd, sitting feet behind the players, watching the match unfold. No matter who scored the point, applause came from both teams, as all the spectators acknowledged the great play by the athletes. 

The best moment of the game was when everyone was together, cheering for our teammates on court,” expressed Xu. 

The mixed doubles, featuring seniors Reanne Chan and Matthew Li, was won with a score of 21-11. 

“Reanne and I work to cover the other’s weakness. I fully trust Reanne’s strategic decisions during a match and try my best to complement that strategy. We have both played badminton for a long time and played together as early as middle school so we know each other’s habits well. On certain days, we may struggle on court individually but we always support each other,” Li shared. 

Chan echoed Li’s sentiments: “I’ve played mixed doubles with Matthew since I was little, and I would say playing with him in high school is no different. Since we both have been playing for a long time, it’s very easy to trust each other when we play, making ourselves perform our best,” expressed Chan.

However, despite the win by Chan and Li, the loss in the boys doubles, with a score of 16-21, allowed the Mustangs to pull ahead. This ultimately secured their title as CIF Southern Section Champions, as the final score was 10-11, with the Apaches being one point behind.

“The best part of the meet was definitely the support of the players. In the team, we always stress the importance of morale and how we can support our players. With that being said, to see all of our team cheering on players is really heartwarming and it displays the community we’ve built up. Our team is all about drive and willingness to stand out, and I feel very enlightened to be one of the select few. Seeing the match unfold definitely injects some pride into you, but it’s always important to stay humble and work to the best of your abilities to improve,” said spectator and Junior Varsity player Brian Yuan. 

“If I could describe the match in three words, these are my three words: regretful, disappointing, and proud. Regretful because we lost the open championship by the slimmest of margins. We had many opportunities but did not capitalize on it. Disappointing because it is me and many others’ last year with the team. Proud because despite the outcome, we’ve come a long way as individual players and as a team, and I cherish this team deeply,” shared Li.

The Apache Badminton team pulled off an amazing season with their dedication and passion. Even though the CIF title wasn’t secured, it’s the lessons learned and the drive to perform to the best of their ability that has left a lasting impact on the players. The cream of the crop was a second place finish in the CIF Open Division, against competitive schools across California, one of the most competitive states for badminton. Congratulations to the Arcadia Varsity Badminton team on such a successful season, for winning Runner Up for the 2023 Co-Ed Team Badminton Team Championships Open Division! We are so proud of you, go Apaches!