Only junior Katie DeJesus remains from the Riverside-Brookfield High School badminton team’s 2022 six-player sectional lineup.
She’s come back a better player and leader.
“As a returning varsity player, I like to teach my teammates things I’ve learned in prior years and things I’ve worked on outside of school,” DeJesus said. “I have improved in singles a lot since last season. I play at Victory Badminton Academy [in Oak Brook] and that extra training definitely helps me get ahead during the offseason.”
The Bulldogs graduated 15 seniors from last season’s 15-7 team, including their other five sectional players who combined for at least one victory each at both singles and doubles entries.
DeJesus finished 2-2 in Hinsdale Central Sectional doubles with graduated Zona Evans.
Senior Robyn Ruvoli and junior Emilia Orszulak also return from the regular-season lineup. Key newcomers include sophomores Luna McNally and Clare Ruska.
“Our goal is to be at least .500 during the season and just get better every time we take the court,” RBHS coach Dan Herbeck said. “The keys to a successful season will be replacing the senior leadership that we lost. We firmly believe that our best players have to be our hardest workers to set a good example for the younger players.”
The Bulldogs opened the season March 14 beating Argo 9-6 and losing to Reavis 15-0 on March 16. Singles winners against Argo were DeJesus, juniors Hannah Frank and Bella Annoreno, Ruska, McNally and Ruvoli, who prevailed 21-19, 20-22, 21-18. Doubles winners were DeJesus-Orszulak, Ruska-McNally and senior Delilah Luna Del Castillo and junior Jessica Voth.
Senior Elle Ownby returns from the Lions’ four 2022 state qualifiers and senior Aggie Driscoll also was part of the sectional lineup.
Ownby and graduated Marris Carli (12-14) lost both of their state doubles matches after taking second at the Lincoln-Way Central Sectional. They became the Lions’ No. 1 doubles team halfway through the season.
Driscoll was one sectional doubles victory from state, losing with graduated Andja Vojinovic 10-21, 21-15, 21-7.
Junior Julia Senffner, senior Sofia Garcia and junior Ellin Zhang also are returning starters. Key newcomers include sophomores Simone Brown, Mia Graziano and Audrey Shell.
“Last season’s success led to a few of the girls continuing their training outside of school at local clubs,” LTHS coach Sue McClenahan said. “[Our goals are] be competitive within [the West Suburban Conference Silver], continue to improve and have fun. The key will be to stay healthy and keep working hard.”