Jericho still the team to beat in Nassau badminton

Great Neck North High School freshman Anson Cheung

Great Neck North High School freshman Anson Cheung makes a serve during the Nassau County varsity boys' badminton individual championships at Bellmore JFK High School. He defeated Matt George of Jericho in the first singles final 21-17, 21-18 to win the county crown. (Oct. 26, 2012) (Credit: James Escher )

Much of the Nassau boys badminton's six-year history has been dominated by reigning four-time champion Jericho.

The Jayhawks finished 14-0 last season and returns 12 players, including five starters.

Leading the way is last season's third-singles county champion Ian Hu.

Zach George and Matt Su also return. But several starting positions are still up for grabs.

"It's still an open competition for singles and doubles spots," Jericho coach Mark Burkowsky said. "The spots will go to those who trained the most and want it the most."

Burkowsky expects a great deal of competition to come from the rest of the league.

"I think this could be the most competitive season we've had," Burkowsky said. "The talent level should definitely even out this year due to the graduation of so many good players."

A top opponent for Jericho could be Great Neck North.

The Blazers return all but one starter, including reigning first-singles county champion Anson Cheung.

A sophomore who finished 13-1 last season, Cheung will be joined by last season's third-singles starter Ryan Ho.

"We're looking to have a much more competitive season," Great Neck North coach John Zak said.

Great Neck North finished 6-8 last year. With so much experience returning, Zak believes his team can "definitely" finish over .500.

Other challengers for the top spot include Long Beach, which returns Justin Barry, one half of last season's first doubles county championship team.

The Marines also return their fourth doubles county championship duo of Josh Ehrlich and Zac Cuddihy.

Mepham returns every player from last season, including Mark Kamelar and Greg Palma.

Bellmore JFK lost nine starters to graduation, but coach John Reilly still has juniors Jared Nossen and Robert Freed to count on.

"We'll be young and competitive," Reilly said.

Great Neck South plans to be in the mix with seniors Alvin Fu and Jonathan Chiang while Calhoun and Hempstead also hope to contend for the league title.

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