* Editor’s note: This is the 11th in a 12-part series previewing Davis High’s spring sports.
The Davis High girls badminton team possesses youth and determination that should help it contend for years to come. In 2013, these young players we’ll be led by first-year coach Eben Simanjuntak and their three standout co-captains, Mo Xu, Debra Ouyang and Maya Salcido White.
As the Blue Devils prepare for the upcoming Monticello Empire League season, their large corps of freshmen and sophomores will rely on the quartet for much-needed leadership and experience.
Simanjuntak enters the league with no prior experience coaching badminton, but is a quality player in his own right and has experience coaching karate in college. Simanjuntak is not a teacher at DHS but is stepping in to fill the mentoring role and, according to the captains, has livened up the program.
The influx of young blood does not provide the Devils with an astounding amount of polished talent for this season, but badminton is a long-term sport and once these players gain experience, the future is bright.
But that doesn’t mean the DHS badminton team has nothing to play for this year. At the end of the season is a tournament at which all seven teams in the MEL duke it out to see which squad will represent the league at sections.
The Blue Devils opened their regular season schedule on Monday with a 9-6 win over Will C. Wood, and will face league foes Armijo, Fairfield, Napa, Vacaville and Vintage throughout the year.
At these encounters, each team brings 14 players to compete in eight singles and seven doubles matches, each worth one point. Early in the season, the locals will send mostly juniors and seniors to these matches with the younger players continuing to develop.
That traveling group definitely will feature the three co-captains, who are the real heart and soul of this team. In addition to gunning for positions at the section tournament, Xu, Ouyang and Salcido White also help lead practice and mentor the younger girls.
“With all of our new payers, I really hope that we can make big improvements this year, which will be great for our team in the coming years,” Ouyang told The Enterprise.
So while the Blue Devils certainly have their work cut out for them this season, they also have a lot to look forward to.
Notes: DHS has a few boys who practice with the team, but there aren’t enough male players in the league schools to support boys competition.