Girls Badminton: Palatine’s Maggie Van Grondelle more than ready
Updated: March 8, 2012 6:44PM
Most girls don’t begin playing competitive badminton until middle school or freshman year of high school, but Maggie Van Grondelle knew what she wanted to do even before then.
The Palatine senior is gunning for her fourth straight top-six state medal this spring. Only two girls have accomplished that feat — York’s Linda French (1979-82) and Karishma Kollipara at Latin (2005) and Hinsdale Central (2006-08).
“That’s been a lifelong dream,” Van Grondelle said. “From the beginning I’ve known I wanted to medal all four years. I’m going to do whatever it takes. It will be a dream come true.”
French and Kollipara won all of their medals in singles. Van Grondelle could be the first four-time medalist in doubles. She will have to do it without her doubles partner from last year, Tomoyo Tsurumi, who moved to California, thus denying them a chance to become the first doubles team to repeat as state champs.
But Van Grondelle has multiple avenues to placing her name in the history books. If she plays doubles, she could become only the third player to win titles with multiple partners. But if she plays singles, she will be a legitimate contender to become the second girl to win titles in both singles and doubles, joining Stevenson’s Miwa Kuniwake, who won doubles in 1997 and singles in 1999.
“I’m obviously going to do whatever is best for the team but I think right now my mind is on singles,” Van Grondelle said. “My ultimate goal is to get downstate and hopefully be a contender for it, but I’m definitely nervous because in doubles, after playing for a year you kind of know where you stand with everyone else. But never having played singles in [postseason] tournaments it will be interesting to see where I stand.”
Palatine coach Alison West plans to play Van Grondelle, who beat Fremd star Angela Wu to win the Mid-Suburban League title last spring, in singles at first but may switch her back to doubles.
“She has some tough competition out there and to make that switch from doubles to singles and just rely solely on yourself is a big switch,” West said. “But she’s very motivated. She’s not a kid that takes it easy on herself.”