Howard Zheng of Jericho returns a volley in first singles...

Howard Zheng of Jericho returns a volley in first singles during the boys badminton Long Island Championship against Half Hollow Hills at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School on Thursday, June 1, 2023. He won a hard-fought match against Rajveer Gurval (not in picture) 21-6, 17-21, 21-18 to lead the Jayhawks to a 7-0 victory. Credit: James Escher

After waiting nearly seven months for a chance at the ultimate prize, Jericho stayed hungry and defeated Half Hollow Hills, 7-0, in the Long Island boys badminton championship on June 1 at Plainview Old Bethpage-JFK middle school.

Despite playing their season in the winter, the Jericho boys started coming into girls practices at the beginning of March to clean off the rust. They came out in midseason form, physically and mentally, against the Suffolk badminton champs and won all seven matches, taking two in hard-fought three set matches.

“They are truly in it to win it and that’s them all season long regardless of who or when they are playing,” Jericho coach Mark Burkowsky said. "They are all super focused, well-trained and highly competitive.”

The first singles matchup highlighted the championship: Jericho’s Howard Zheng faced off against reigning Suffolk individual singles champion, Rajveer Gujral of Hills. Zheng handily took set one 21-6, but Gujral had a strong response in set two, winning 21-17 to force a third set.

“At the start of the third set, I was definitely frustrated with myself for making so many unforced errors in the second, but I told myself I can do it,” Zheng said. “I stayed focused and approached it one point at a time and ultimately, that led me to victory.”

Zheng took the third set 21-18, winning the match and securing Jericho back-to-back Long Island boys titles in the first two years of the L.I. championship’s conception.

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