With their top three doubles pairings gone — including standouts Debra Ouyang and Mo Xu, who finished third in the Monticello Empire League last year — one could be forgiven for assuming that the Davis High girls badminton team is rebuilding.
But that’s not how second-year coach Henrico Simanjuntak sees it.
“I would like the players to give their best,” Simanjuntak said. “I want them to be No. 1 and inspire others to join the badminton team. We can be No. 1.”
Though not many Blue Devils are returners from the squad that finished second to Armijo in the MEL last season, still around is singles star Yixing Chen. The standout was one of three DHS singles athletes to compete at last year’s league postseason tournament at Bear Creek High in Stockton.
The Devils open their 2014 campaign on Monday at Will C. Wood, and will take on Armijo, Napa, Rodriguez, Vacaville and Vintage during MEL play.
The season concludes with a conference tournament that will decide which team will represent the MEL in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Davis did not send any representatives to sections last year, something that Simanjuntak hopes to change this season.
While Simanjuntak’s roster is not yet finalized, he hopes to do so soon. The continued competition should be good for the Blue Devils, as it will encourage players to keep working as they try to not only make the team, but move up the lineup ladder.
Note: Three boys practice with the DHS team, but there is no official MEL or Sac-Joaquin Section competition as there isn’t enough interest in boys badminton around the area.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam