Kind of like revenge and payback.
That’s how St. Paul Johnson senior Xena Yang described beating St. Paul Central 6-1 in the team semifinals of the state badminton tournament Tuesday at Burnsville High School. Never mind that Johnson (18-0) went on to win a fifth state team title in the past six years with a 5-2 victory over St. Paul Washington. That was extra.
“We were more confident in the final,” Yang said.
It was a familiar script for Johnson, coming into the tournament undefeated and facing Central in the semifinals, just like last year. Central took home the title in 2014, but Johnson would not be denied two years in a row.
“We don’t want the same thing to happen again,” coach Mark Fischbach said. “We want payback.”
Top-seeded Johnson got what it wanted.
Though the team had a bunch of seniors, six of them were new to the varsity this year, and only two of the 10 varsity players returned from last year. The team’s work ethic and willingness to push for improvement was the key to the successful season, according to Fischbach.
Encouragement among teammates helped as well, said senior first-doubles player Xai Chang.
“We just play the best that we can,” Chang said.
Singles and doubles champions will be crowned Thursday at Eden Prairie High School.