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Half Hollow Hills' Samie Zia outlasts Commack's Andrew Wang in Suffolk badminton individual final

Hills' Chris Li and Jacob Roedel won the doubles final in straight sets.

Hills East's Samie Zia with the backhand return

Hills East's Samie Zia with the backhand return at the net against Andrew Wang during the boy's singles match at the Suffolk County Badminton Finals at Half Hollow Hills East High School on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Somewhere toward the end of Tuesday’s Suffolk Badminton Individual championships, the hoopla stopped. For nearly three hours, four courts were awash with squeaking feet and whooshing rackets. But as each champion was crowned, one title remained undecided. Suddenly, all eyes were focused on the boys first singles court and an epic battle between Half Hollow Hills’ Samie Zia and Commack’s Andrew Wang.

Finally, it was Zia who came out with the title — beating Wang, 7-15, 15-10, 15-13, at Half Hollow Hills East.

“It made me feel a bit more important than I actually am,” Zia said of the final match attention. “My friends were cheering for me and [others] were cheering for [Wang], but it didn’t make a difference, because whoever played better would win.”

That ended up being Zia, but it sure was close. Zia took a 14-10 lead in the final set before Wang fought back to within one point. But ahead 14-13, Zia earned the final point and the championship.

“After the serve, I thought ‘I should start driving and finish this,” Zia said. “Once he smashed it, I thought ‘ok, I just have to defend now.’ But I decided to keep the drive on and got the point.”

To his credit, Wang never let up — making Zia feel the heat until the very end.

“It was pretty intense,” Zia said. “Every time I thought [Wang] was tired, he would pull up with a smash. He kept it going…I just decided to make him move a lot and, whenever he lifted a bit too much, just smashed it.”

Zia’s teammates, Chris Li and Jacob Roedel, defeated Lindenhurst’s Devin Scali and Joe Biscardi, 15-3, 15-8.

Earlier in the season, Scali and Biscardi handed Li and Roedel their first loss in two years. The loss was a wake-up call, Li said.

“We grinded throughout the season to get a lot better,” Li said. “I think the reason why we won today is that we put a lot of their net shots down and were able to predict what they were going to do a lot better than the last time we played them.”

Li continued: “I think I did a much better job reading their back-court play, where I knew where they were going to place it and would just stand there waiting. Jake’s drops got a lot better than the last time we played. Last time, they pushed a lot of them down. But this time, they couldn’t return any of them.”

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