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Badminton: Lincoln-Way Central’s Mudrock claims title

Lincoln-Way Central senior Jana Mudrock was playing in her first tournament as a singles player.

Downers Grove North seniors Kelsey Stallter and Lucy Lu were playing together for the first time as doubles partners.

The unfamiliarity with their new roles wasn’t a problem for any of them. Mudrock won the No. 1 singles championship and Stallter and Lu captured the No. 1 doubles title at Saturday’s Downers Grove North Trojan Invite.

Mudrock, a two-time state qualifier in doubles, improved to 7-1 by knocking off Downers Grove North junior Kiley Pooler 21-12, 21-14 in the final.

“(Singles) is definitely a different game,” Mudrock said. “It’s really challenging but it’s also a lot of fun.”

Mudrock, whose only loss was to Hinsdale South freshman phenom Judy Yang, increased her training and worked on her footwork to prepare for the switch to singles.

It showed in the match against Pooler (6-3), who is making a similar transition after qualifying for state in doubles last year. Mudrock was never threatened even though both players moved swiftly.

“I tried to get in better cardiovascular shape, so that’s helped me out, and then just focusing more on my clears and long-court game as well,” Mudrock said. “I just try to stay mentally tough whenever I’m playing, stay positive about my shots and then it usually follows from there.”

That approach also worked for Stallter and Lu, who lost just one set in going 5-0. They beat Andrew’s Nina Vinotai and Nicole Bernardi 21-15, 21-17 in the final.

“I was excited that we won,” Stallter said. “We work hard and we try and play our best and that’s all we can do.”

Stallter and Lu weren’t even thinking about winning the title when the meet began.

“Usually when we play we don’t think about winning,” Lu said. “We think about playing a good game. We try to do the right thing and if that leads us to victory, then, hey, why not?”

That attitude helped Downers Grove North win a tight race for the team title with 24 points. Neuqua Valley was second with 23 and Lockport third with 21.

While the Trojans are a perennial state power, this is not considered to be one of their stronger teams, but Lu isn’t worried about outside expectations.

“Our girls work hard,” Lu said. “We had a lot of seniors graduate, so people will see that and say we’ll be down. But the fact of the matter is, if you work hard there really is no way you can fail.”

Downers Grove North also got a championship from the No. 4 doubles team of Rachel Schubert and Kelsey Godomski.

Neuqua Valley won four of the eight titles, led by freshman Arthi Cunkari, who improved to 7-0 with a 21-15, 21-12 win over Lockport’s Haley Egelhoff at No. 2 singles.

Neuqua’s Sophia Li knocked off Downers North’s Ruth Anderson 21-11, 21-10 to win the No. 3 singles title, while teammate Meghna Nagam defeated Andrew’s Elizabeth McKernan 21-16, 21-19 at No. 4 singles. Adaah Sayyed and Tiffany Jeung captured the No. 3 doubles crown.

“This is a great tournament,” Neuqua Valley coach Marie Valente said. “We love coming here and I feel like we’re very competitive this year. In the past we’ve had a strong top of the lineup, but here I feel like we’re a little more deep.”

Lockport juniors Jen Inczauskis and Lauren Hueckstaedt won the No. 2 doubles title.



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