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Few familiar faces : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Few familiar faces
by Christine Bolin Dascher


The Oswego East badminton team returns just two players from last year's squad - senior Pearl Fox and junior Leena Hwang. Everyone else on the roster this year is brand-new to varsity.

The good news about the returning players is these two were a big part of last year's team, starting with Hwang, a multiple state qualifier in tennis.

"She's a great kid," Oswego East head coach Marko Jurkovic said of Hwang. "She works hard, and I think she has a really good shot at state. Last year, we were at an extremely tough sectional (Lockport), where the four girls who qualified for state had already been there, so it was a battle."

Hwang will play in doubles in the regular season, but at the sectional, will switch over to singles play. Fox is the lone senior.

"She's been with the team for a couple years now, and really got an idea last year what it takes at the varsity level," Jurkovic said of Fox. "We'll be looking to her to step it up as well in both doubles and singles."

All the others are new, including juniors Madyson Bellafiore, Maria Bernard, Aileen Garcia, Tyannah Morris, Hibah Rehman, sophomores Akshata Gunda, Ibtesam Kamal, Amber Williams, Amna Hoda and freshman Annie Carmody. Exactly where these players will fit in the lineup is to be determined.

"As a group, other than Pearl and Leena, we are obviously young," Jurkovic said. "Most of them played at the JV level last year, but we are looking at them to step it up."

The Wolves had a challenging season in 2013. They won just two dual meets (against DeKalb and South Elgin) and were not able to beat any of the Southwest Prairie Conference opponents in the regular season.

Oswego East ended up placing fifth at the conference tournament, and no one was able to advance out of the Lockport Sectional and to the state meet.

"It was a tough season, but as the year went along, the girls did get a lot better," Jurkovic said. "Just consistency and having the same girls year after year is something that has been an issue. But we did come close to having one girl (Hwang) go to state, so that was pretty exciting. We are just trying to build every year."

Jurkovic said rival Oswego is the pre-season favorite in the conference.

"Other than (Oswego), it's a toss-up," Jurkovic said. "You never know going into the season because it varies from year-to-year."

Just like last year, the first outing of the 2014 season is against Joliet West on the road on Monday. The next day, the Wolves will be part of a quad with St. Charles East, West Aurora and Waubonsie Valley in St. Charles.

The Wolves' first tournament is on March 22 at DeKalb, and a week later, they will be a part of T.F. North's Invite. On April 1, they will host DeKalb in a non-conference contest before being a part of Plainfield North's Doubles Invite on March 5.

The first conference dual meet of the season is at Romeoville on April 7. Oswego and Oswego East will take on one another on the Wolves' home court on April 16. The conference meet is scheduled for May 1 and May 3 at Oswego.

The sectional site is to be determined but is scheduled for May 8-10. The state tournament will take place May 16-17 on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

"Ideally, we might take our lumps early on, and hopefully, we'll be able to figure some things out before the conference season starts," Jurkovic said. "Then, when conference time rolls around, we'll kind of have it figured out."

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