The Oak Park and River Forest High School badminton team finished second in its own IHSA sectional May 4. 

The Huskies, whose 9.5 points were three behind sectional champion Conant, advanced both of their doubles teams to the state meet and narrowly missed out on qualifying a singles player.

Seniors Katherine DeHaan and Caroline Raducha defeated their teammates, junior Lilianna Jasinska and sophomore Annika Gupta, in three sets (13-21, 21-12, 22-20).

“It’s a huge pickup,” said OPRF coach Paul Wright. “We were seeded third coming into the sectional and to finish second is very nice.”

Wright said it had been some time since OPRF hosted a sectional, and he felt that gave his team a boost.

“There seemed to be more parents and fans attending than before COVID-19,” he said. “We had a nice turnout and that was great to see. With our balcony, you could see all the courts, and there was not a bad seat in the house.”

The Huskies’ top two singles players, senior Olivia Lee and junior Ella Papandreou, each fell short of the placement matches. 

Papandreou lost her opening match to Quetzali Lara of Elgin Larkin 21-16, 16-21, and 17-21. In the consolation round, she defeated Jelani Tamayao of South Elgin 21-11, 21-6, then avenged her earlier defeat to Lara, prevailing 13-21, 22-20, 21-12. 

But in the consolation semifinal, Papandreou lost to Haylay Giancaterino of St. Charles North 21-12, 18-21, 12-21, falling a victory shy of the top four places that advance to the state meet.

“Ella was almost there,” Wright said. “She gave it her all.”

Lee defeated Darlene Vorarath of Streamwood 21-9, 21-9 in her opening match, but lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Sruthi Sundar of Conant 21-23, 17-21. She then lost her consolation match 9-21, 4-21 to South Elgin’s Kailynn Pritchett.

The IHSA state meet takes place May 11-13 at DeKalb High School. Wright feels his doubles teams are peaking at the right time and hopes to advance them both to Saturday.

“Every coach wants to have an upward trajectory, and it will be interesting to see where we’re placed,” he said. “It comes down to who we’re seeded against. I don’t foresee us being placed in the top 20 because there are a lot of returning [state-qualifying] doubles teams. We’ll start chipping away and see what happens.”

Join the discussion on social media!