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Jericho’s Jia Zhang eyes third straight county title

Jia Zhang of Jericho gets ready to serve

Jia Zhang of Jericho gets ready to serve during the Nassau girls badminton singles final against Stacy He of Great Neck North at Bellmore JFK High School on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Zhang won 19-21, 21-18, 21-20 to repeat as county champion. Credit: James Escher

As the years have passed, the wins have piled up and the expectations have grown for Jericho’s Jia Zhang.

Through it all, the senior has stayed cool and calm, knocking off victory after victory. It’s all put her in position to try for a third consecutive county title.

“She knows everybody is looking for her,” coach Mark Burkowsky said. “Everybody we play this year is going to look to beat Jia.”

Her composure was on display at last year’s Nassau final when she came from behind against Great Neck North’s Stacy He to claim the title. She was able to think strategically when she tired and could change up the speeds of her hits. It’s that sort of ability that had made her run possible.

“This year I want to do better,” said Zhang, who is off to a 4-0 start this season. “Which is to set a goal by winning by a lot.”

Just because she’s reached the top twice doesn’t mean Zhang thinks this time around would be any easier. In fact, she knows exactly where she stands early in the season — in the same place as everyone else.

“I will work for it,” she said.

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