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Great Neck South's Ryan Wu wins his third straight Nassau badminton singles title

Great Neck South's Ryan Wu hits a return

Great Neck South's Ryan Wu hits a return against Great Neck North's Melvin Thu (not pictured) during the Nassau High School boys badminton final at Long Beach High School in Lido Beach, NY, on Saturday, Oct 23, 2021. Credit: Brad Penner

Ryan Wu let out a roar after finishing off his third consecutive Nassau boys badminton singles title.

The Great Neck South senior defeated the top-seed, sophomore Melvin Thu of Great Neck North, 21-18, 21-10, on Saturday at Long Beach High School in the Nassau County boys badminton county championships.

It was a rematch of last season's Nassau County championship, and the two had faced off twice this season during conference play, with this third matchup serving as a high-stakes tiebreaker.

"After the first loss, which was very disappointing on my end, I just started training two or three times a week," Wu said. "Every single time I came to practice, I would go 100% like real gameplay."

In an all-Jericho doubles final, the senior tandem of Anshul Vemuri and Joshua Dong, the No. 4 seed, defeated freshmen Jerry Zhang and Jerry Huang, the No. 6 seed, 21-11, 21-18, to capture the title.

Dong pointed to Jericho’s deep roster and the coaching of Mark Burkowsky as the reasons the teammates squared off in the finals.

"There’s a lot of people in our school interested in badminton," Dong said. "We have great depth. Our coach is so helpful. The types of exercises and drills we do in practice help us a lot in our games… he’s done his research and he’s just very knowledgeable about the game."

Vemuri and Dong had a tough path to the finals, which included taking on the No. 1 seed, juniors Yang Wang and Aidan Din of Great Neck South in the semifinals. That matchup prepared them to take on their previously undefeated teammates.

"We try to be laid back, but also really focused in the moment," Vemuri said. "There’s a lot of pressure [facing No.1], but it’s just really fun to be in that moment and play well."

As for Wu, his third title served as the culmination to a stellar badminton career at Great Neck South. He too gave credit to his coach, Allison Romeo Gottfried, for helping him get to this level.

"For the first 30 minutes, the coach organizes what we should do… for our conditioning and our technique," Wu said. "Then she gives us the freedom to work on what we feel we make mistakes on."

Wu also noted how his game was "rough around the edges" in his first matchup of the season against Thu, so his team helped him focus on sharpening his skills during the season.

Gottfried credited Wu’s dedication to badminton as the main reason for his success. She also said he has helped his teammates get better and his presence will be missed going forward.

"He lives and breathes badminton, he basically grew up with a racquet in his hand," Gottfried said. "He shares his skills with others and is just the best teammate you could ever have."

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