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Andrew Wang sparks Commack to Suffolk boys badminton title

Commack's Andrew Wang returns the back hand volley

Commack's Andrew Wang returns the back hand volley against Half Hollow Hills in the Suffolk badminton team finals on Friday at Half Hollow Hills East High School. Credit: George A. Faella

A year after coming just short of a county championship, Commack boys badminton finished the job Friday afternoon.

The fact that the Cougars did it against the team that had denied them that title last season made the victory even sweeter.

Top-seeded Commack defeated No. 2 Half Hollow Hills, 7-2, in a Suffolk county final rematch at Half Hollow Hills East. The championship was the first for the school’s boys program, coach Jesus Valdes said.

“It’s amazing to be a part of this,” said Andrew Wang, who won at first singles. “The past two years, Hills has always been able to beat us, so it’s really nice to be able to beat them this time around.”

“They’re an amazing program,” Valdes said of Hills, which beat Commack 7-2 last season to win a second consecutive county title. “It’s been a battle against them for a number of years and earlier this season, we were able to get our first victory against them in my 10-year career. We beat them then, but this was going to be the most important one.”

Commack (18-0) began the match with a 2-0 lead due to a pair of forfeits, before taking care of business on the court. Wang won arguably the day’s most anticipated match, edging Samie Zia, 5-15, 15-12, 15-2, in a rematch of the county individual singles title that Zia won in three sets.

“It was very satisfying to get that win because it proved to myself that I can beat Sami,” Wang said.

At second singles, Commack’s John Jeong topped Chris Li in another highlight match, winning 15-8, 12-15, 15-8.

“Chris is one of my good friends and I’ve played with him a lot,” Jeong said. “We were having fun and had some really good rallies.”

Jeong added that the cheering and support from his teammates helped make a difference and that the team's sense of camaraderie made a difference on the court throughout the season.

“Saturday practices can be rough, but we all go to IHop before, and then we’ll spend the rest of our day together,” he said. “That made our team closer and made us want to cheer each other on more. Without that motivation, this team wouldn’t be the same.”

Tyler Chipetine won at third singles (7-15, 15-11, 15-8) and the duos of Joon Choi and John Berry (15-7, 15-13) and Nick Cooper and Jack Romandetti (15-4, 15-4) won at first and second doubles, respectively, for the Cougars.

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