Badminton: Conference meet will end Leah Schmidt’s high school career
Leah Schmidt has spent hours at practice and even attended open workouts in the offseason, but her career has to end sometime.
The Hinsdale Central senior expects that will happen this weekend. The Red Devils end the regular season at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division meet at York.
Schmidt is a No. 4 singles player, but only the top two singles players are eligible to compete from each team when the Red Devils compete at the Hinsdale South Sectional beginning May 3.
Schmidt has put all of her focus on the conference meet as Hinsdale Central tries to upset favorite Downers Grove North.
But Schmidt is slowly getting used to the fact that she will be playing her final matches of her career this week. The Red Devils compete in their final dual meet of the season at Glenbard West Wednesday.
“I love badminton. I love playing team badminton, it’s by far my favorite,” Schmidt said. “It will be sad when the season is over. It’s been so much fun. I’ve been doing it all four years.”
The Red Devils finished 11th (21 points) at the Hinsdale South ABCD Invitational Saturday while Schmidt and Julia Huang were Hinsdale Central’s only singles players to win in the first round.
Schmidt beat Claire Yao of Stevenson, 21-8, 21-18, in the B bracket, but lost to Neuqua Valley’s Wendy Yang, 21-17, 21-14, in the quarterfinals.
In the D bracket, Huang lost to Evanston’s Anna Cable 21-13, 21-15 in the quarterfinals after beating Willowbrook’s Vanessa Mistry, 21-17, 21-12, in the first round.
Hinsdale South’s tournament features a few rounds of pool play and then players are sorted into different brackets based on pool-play results.
“We didn’t do well as a whole team,” Schmidt said. “I’m happy. I wanted to get into the A or B bracket. I wish I’d gone further, really.”
Schmidt played mainly singles this season and appeared in doubles in two dual meets against Oak Park-River Forest and York.
The conference meet might produce mixed emotions for Schmidt, who is very good friends with No. 1 singles player Brina Gartlan. Due to Gartlan, the pair traveled regularly to Woodridge to play in pick-up games in the offseason at the Midwest Badminton Club, which is billed as the only badminton-only club in the Chicago area.
Schmidt said Hinsdale Central’s likely No. 2 singles player for the sectional is junior Ailynna Chen.
“It’s hard. Last year, I played at No. 3 singles. I sprained my ankle a week before tryouts. I couldn’t play for the first two weeks,” Schmidt said.