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The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

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On Monday, June 10, the annual Underclassmen Awards ceremony took place inside of WHSs auditorium.

I think that these awards bring motivation to [WHS] students to preform well academically, Sophomore Rufat Hasanov said.
WHS hosts the annual Underclassman Awards ceremony
June 15, 2024
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Annabelle Zhang: A lifetime devotion to badminton

WSPN%E2%80%99s+Annika+Martins+and+Maddie+Zajac+explore+the+athletic+life+of+senior+Annabelle+Zhang+through+her+badminton+career.+%E2%80%9CThis+%5Bphoto%5D+is+me+and+my+former+partner+after+we+won+the+2022+junior+nationals+mixed+doubles+category%2C%E2%80%9D+Zhang+said.
Credit: Courtesy of Yu Zhang
WSPN’s Annika Martins and Maddie Zajac explore the athletic life of senior Annabelle Zhang through her badminton career. “This [photo] is me and my former partner after we won the 2022 junior nationals mixed doubles category,” Zhang said.

Badminton is the kind of sport that some people don’t hear about often, but senior Annabelle Zhang has found her niche in the sport. For Zhang, badminton has been a huge part of her life since before third grade. By the time Zhang was nine years old, her dad, who was the director of Wayland Recreation Department’s badminton program at the time, had already recognized her talent for the sport. Since then, Zhang has been training on a more serious level to improve her skills.

Zhang quickly learned the fundamentals from spending so much time watching other players at the gym and picking up some lessons from them. As Zhang became more familiar with the rules of badminton, she realized some of the advantages that she had over other players that would appeal to coaches scouting in the area.

“My left-handedness was a nice bonus,” Zhang said. “Because of [my left-handedness], a coach who was pretty good in the area picked me up because he saw that I had potential to work with. I trained with him for maybe three to four years before I switched to another coach. That’s really how my badminton career got started and where the momentum came from.”

Although Zhang’s natural talent brought her into the sport, she faced some challenges along the way of becoming a nationally ranked player.

“When I first started, I was getting really frustrated [trying to play] because my eyesight is not that great,” Zhang said. “I was just whipping air a lot of the time and that was really frustrating for me. [Badminton] definitely has a lot of self-discipline because you have to do it consistently, and you have to do it consistently right.”

In addition to playing competitively, Zhang also coached badminton at the Millworks in Westford, MA. Now, she coaches at Pantheon Badminton Club and Boston Badminton Club. During sophomore year, Zhang spent more time training than ever, training six to eight times each week.

“You either play recreationally or you play competitively,” Zhang said. “There’s no recreational leagues that you could play in, so I play on the national level [and used to play] on the international level. I used to be first in the country for mixed doubles under 17, but I’m currently ranked a lot lower.”

Unlike most sports, there isn’t a legitimate league that teams can play in. Instead, players and teams attend tournaments all over the country, from Los Angeles to Texas. Because Zhang had tournaments on the weekends, it often meant that she had to miss days of school due to the travel the tournaments required.

“Every time we had a long weekend, there would be some tournament that I would have to go to,” Zhang said. “That meant a lot of missing school, but I felt that it was worth it.”

Since badminton is a small sport, Zhang believes the community is more close-knit. Zhang spends time outside of matches with other badminton players who are competing, especially during away tournaments. With that being said, there is a lot of trust in the badminton community because of the particular size of the sport.

“During tournaments, we would just go to one person’s hotel room and we’d eat together or play games,” Zhang said. “At tournaments during warm-up time, you’d see a pile of like 20 phones and wallets on the ground and people just trusted that no one would take anything that’s not theirs.”

Aside from the social aspect of badminton, badminton can also be beneficial to a person’s physical health and endurance. Since badminton isn’t a contact sport, the chance of injury is significantly decreased.

“The sport involves depth perception and basic eye coordination, so any potential injuries are to your own wrong-doing,” Zhang said.

Being born with the genetic advantage of being left-handed and being trained by her father from a young age, Zhang is hopeful that her connection with badminton will continue into her college experience.

“I do plan on playing in college and hopefully beyond that,” Zhang said. “I’m currently trying to get different certifications so that I can volunteer and participate more at tournaments as an adult. I’ll be attending UCLA where some of the top players in the country are going, which is really exciting.”

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About the Contributors
Maddie Zajac
Maddie Zajac, Staff Reporter
Maddie Zajac, Class of 2026, is a first year reporter for WSPN. She plays on the Wayland junior varsity volleyball team during the fall. Outside of school she enjoys club volleyball, painting, baking and spending lots of time with her friends. Contact: [email protected]
Annika Martins
Annika Martins, Staff Reporter
Annika Martins, Class of 2024, is a first year reporter for WSPN. She plays basketball for Wayland’s girls Varsity team. Outside of school, she enjoys playing club basketball. Contact: [email protected]
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