Newsday Player of the Year: Ryan Wu, Great Neck South, Sr. and Kayla Wu, Great Neck South, So.
As young children, Ryan and Kayla Wu exchanged winnings on the badminton court. Back and forth they would go, Ryan and Kayla, successful products of a badminton family bred to win.
“Me and my sister have always been very close,” said Ryan Wu, a senior. “We used to hang out together because we got along way better than anyone else. Growing up we were very competitive when it came to badminton. She would hit me and I would hit her.”
Now they beat everyone.
Ryan Wu won the singles championship at the Nassau Singles Tournament for the third consecutive year and was named Newsday’s Player of the Year for Boys’ Badminton. Kayla Wu won the girls’ singles title at the Nassau Singles Tournament and won the first singles at the first girls badminton Long Island Championships since 1983 and was named Newsday’s Player of the Year in girls’ badminton.
“I think Kayla has more potential than me,” Ryan said. “She has this ability to understand things more naturally. She has the talent to finish every shot with perfection, even when she’s in an unbalanced state.”
Badminton is definitely in the genes. The couple’s father, Chibing, is a coach who owns badminton centers in Westbury and Flushing. Long Island’s top player as a junior, Ryan honed his skills for his final season at Great Neck South by playing against former professional singles players.
“I think my footwork and attack have improved the most this year,” Ryan said. “I always had a good idea (in) defense, but my offense was the biggest problem. I didn’t have any opportunities to finish in attack. Training with (the pros) has helped me improve my soft touch, footwork and smashes.”
Ryan, who already plays in adult tournaments nationally, was 11-1 in the regular season.
Kayla went 10-0.
“She’s become more confident,” said Great Neck South coach Allison Romeo Gottfried. “She’s worked on consistency and accuracy, which is what all the best players have to do.”
YOUNG FIRST TEAM
Jaiveer Gujral, Half Hollow Hills, Sr.
He won the singles title in Suffolk, defeating his younger brother Rajveer 21-14, 21-16. Gujral, a great adjuster in the game, ended the season 19-2.
Rajveer Gujral, Half Hollow Hills, Fr.
The runner-up in the Suffolk singles. He fell to his older brother Jaiveer in the finals but finished the season 19-2. Gujiral has a great sense of judgment.
Melvin Thu, Great Neck North, Sun.
He was runner-up in singles at the Nassau singles tournament. Thu was 11-1 and was the only player to defeat Ryan Wu. He has excellent footwork that allows him to cover the entire court. He always takes the right shots at the right time.
Danny Chipetine, Sr., and Joon Choi, Jr., Commack
They won the doubles title at the singles championships in Suffolk, defeating Half Hollow Hills’ Max Kim and Dawood Tirmizi 21-16, 21-18. Both will dive all over the place to salvage a point.
Anshul Vemuri, Sr. and Josh Dong, Sr., Jericho
They won the doubles title at Nassau Singles Tournament, defeating teammates Jerry Zhang and Jerry Huang 21-11, 21-18. Dong brings aggression; Vemuri mixes finesse and strategy.
Coach of the Year: Mark Burkowsky, Jericho
His team won the inaugural Long Island championship in boys’ badminton last month, beating Half Hollow Hills 8-1. Jericho dropped just two sets in the dominant win. Last fall, the Jayhawks defeated Great Neck South to win the Nassau Team Championship, their fifth straight title.
GIRLS FIRST TEAM
Delaney Hart, Ward Melville, So.
Hart finished second at the Suffolk Singles Championships, falling to Commack’s Ashley Park 21-18, 15-21, 18-21. She was 23-2 including playoffs and plays a generally healthy and aggressive style.
Judy Liang, Jericho, 8th grade
She was singles runner-up at the Nassau Singles Tournament, falling to Kayla Wu. Liang was 8-2 in the regular season. She morphed from a player who played a finesse-based style to one that was a bit more aggressive.
Ashley Park, Commack, Jr.
She won the singles title at the Suffolk Singles Championships, defeating Ward Melville’s Delaney Hart 18-21 21-15 21-18. She finished the regular season 14-2 and has superior shot placement.
Nicole Yim, Sr., and Bernice Wong, So., Great Neck South
They won the doubles title at the Nassau singles tournament, defeating Jericho’s Devon Jin and Michelle Dong 21-10, 21-9. They were 15-0 this spring.
Ariel Dubler, Sr., and Lindsay Bank, Sr., Half Hollow Hills
They won the doubles title at the Suffolk singles championships, defeating Miller Place’s Lindsey Kreyling and Lauren Neri 21-12, 23-21. They’ve been playing together since year one and can anticipate each other’s moves.
Coach of the Year: Allison Romeo Gottfried, Great Neck South
It’s been tough coming to Great Neck South’s dominance this season. They won the first Long Island Championship in girls’ badminton since 1983, beating Ward Melville 9-0 last month, in an afternoon in which they lost just one set. Great Neck South won the Nassau Team Championship for the second year in a row, surpassing Jericho.