Kayla Wu of Great Neck South stretches for the return...

Kayla Wu of Great Neck South stretches for the return at the Long Island girls badminton team finals against Ward Melville on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Late in senior Bernice Wong's match on the badminton court at the Long Island Championship Wednesday, she was struck by a single thought:

She didn't want her match to end.

The Great Neck South girls badminton team claimed its third consecutive Long Island team championship, defeating Ward Melville 9-0 at Smithtown East High School.

“Obviously, there’s nothing more we could’ve hoped for than to win the Long Island Championship again,” Wong said. “But when I saw there was one point left in my match, I was wishing it wouldn’t end.”

To make the three-peat even better, Great Neck South won every match - each in two straight sets.

“There’s nothing better than everyone on the team winning,” second-singles Hannah Cheng said. “We’re all really happy about that.”

Kayla Wu defeated Ward Melville’s Delaney Hart 21-5, 21-10 at first singles, Cheng defeated Zoe Xiao 21-14, 21-10 at second singles, and Wong defeated Katie Specht 21-4, 21-9 at third singles.

Adora Cho and Akira Cho defeated Mikaela Tucci and Isabella Rowett 21-8, 21-3 at first doubles, Katherine Cheung and Kary Wong defeated Julia Huang and Lily Hou 21-16, 21-11 at second doubles and Jessica Jacob and Michelle Ye defeated Yilin Chen and Mickey Legge 21-6, 21-4 at third doubles.

“This is an absolutely wonderful group of young women,” coach Allison Romeo Gottfried said. “Everyone played a part today and there’s a sense of great accomplishment of what we’ve been doing as a program, and what we put into it every day.”

For senior co-captains Wu and Bernice Wong, the win was bittersweet.

“It’s crazy that we’re seniors now,” Wong said. “Having the chance to lead the underclassmen and raise the next generation has been really special.”

“It’s scary,” Wu said. “I haven’t felt the absence of playing and the absence of this team yet, so I know it’s going to be hard.”

Romeo Gottfried has coached Wong for four years and Wu for six.

“I hope they walk away from this and they’re able to cope better with life,”  Gottfried said. “I hope they’ve learned a lot of life lessons through the sport because that’s what it’s all about.”

Although their high school badminton careers have come to an end, they say they’ll be a part of the Great Neck South team forever.

“I know that our underclassmen are going to continue this success,” Wong said. “Kayla and I will definitely be back to cheer everyone on. This isn’t the end for us.”


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