Kayla Wu of Great Neck South serves the birdie during...

Kayla Wu of Great Neck South serves the birdie during her singles final match at the girls Nassau badminton finals on Saturday, May 11, 2024 in Jericho. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Kayla Wu is no stranger to competing for a championship. But, this year, the senior had a bit of added pressure as she aimed to go out on top.

Wu defeated her Great Neck South teammate Hannah Cheng, 21-9, 21-14, in the Nassau badminton individual championship at Jericho High School Saturday afternoon. Wu secured her third consecutive championship to continue her dominant run.

“There was slightly more pressure with it being my last year,” Wu said. “Everyone upped their game this time around, you could see the improvement in the competition."

Wu fell behind Cheng, 3-2, in the second set, but never trailed again. She finished the regular season 12-0 and carried that momentum throughout the tournament.

“I don’t put too much thought into who my opponent is, I try to look at everyone the same,” Wu said. “Today I didn’t feel like I really had my legs under me, but I’m certainly happy with my performance.”

Cheng had a thrilling three-set semifinal victory over Jericho’s Sandra Chen and beat Jericho’s Judy Liang in the quarterfinals.

“I think I played pretty well, all things considered,” Cheng said. “I lost to Sandra and Judy a lot in the past and today I was able to stay relaxed and perform.”

Great Neck South added another title when Emma Ding and Eva Westbay defeated Bethpage’s Rayya Zheng and Mehar Gill, 21-10, 21-8, in the doubles final.

“I was kind of anxious in the beginning, but after a while I got into things,” Westbay said. “I found my place and got pretty comfortable.”

Westbay, a freshman, had an experienced teammate alongside her. Ding won the doubles title a season ago while paired with Cheng.

“We play outside of school together as well, so I think that’s helped a lot,” Ding said. “We approached things today with a very positive attitude and today was probably the best we’ve played alongside each other.”

“We’ve known each other for a while and we try our best to communicate well during the match,” Westbay said. “We don’t get angry at each other if we miss a point or mess up and that’s helped.”

Great Neck South finished the season 14-0 and it’s easy to see why with the talent they possess. The team will now turn its attention to capturing a third straight team county and Long Island championship.

“I’ve had a lot of fun this year, badminton has been something to take everyone’s mind away from things while they’re playing,” Ding said. “Last year was my first year and I went into it wanting to win and now, this year, it’s the time to defend our titles.”


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