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El Camino badminton remain undefeated after 19-2 win over Compton College

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“Thwack”!

Sneakered feet dance gracefully on the parquet floor, punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter on both sides of the net.

Smashes alternate with arcing lobs and delicate drop shots.

White feathered birdies are slapped and whistle through the air in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28 .

This may be the best-kept secret in El Camino sports.

It is women’s badminton, though not quite the languid variety traditionally played in grannie’s backyard after overdosing on birthday cake.

These players are fast-moving athletes, although today’s match has an almost intramural feel since it is El Camino College versus Compton College. What is striking is the cheerful attitude of all participants involved, be it the players, a small audience of family and friends, and the coaches.

The play is competitive, but the atmosphere is congenial.

This ECC team is full of interesting stories.

For example, Kalyn Kaemerle switched from soccer to badminton after suffering kneecap injuries. She can readily contrast the rough and tumble of soccer with the more cerebral aspects of badminton, where she admits she could “improve on her finesse shots.”

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Kalyn Kaemerle serves it up during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

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Kalyn Kaemerle barely gets to this lob during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

Kaemerle was recruited to the badminton team by Coach John Britton, who also happens to coach both the men’s and women’s ECC soccer teams. Britton hails from Scotland, and he is a born story-teller with his lilting brogue. “Don’t quote me on this”, he pleads, after making a colorful comment.

Maddy Simones, another badminton team member, still plays soccer.

Top player Samoeon Kong is a vivacious Cambodian-American whose parents escaped from the Khmer Rouge regime of terror.

She is in the process of changing careers from cosmetology to nursing. The team currently includes 3 active players of Filipino descent, Ivygale Tolentino, Chloe Ferrer, and Phoebe Torres.

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"Mika" Xiao, Sam Kong, Ivy Tolentino, and Chloe Ferrer laugh at a quip from Coach John Britton at the conclusion of the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

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Chloe Ferrer attacks this shot during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

Tolentino said, “that’s because badminton is much more popular in the Philippines than it is here”.

Ferrer is shy and quiet but quite focused, and she lets her compact and powerful strokes speak on the court.

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Sam Kong readies for a high shot during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

Torres was absent as she was “in the hospital” as the girls joked, but that’s only because she is working there as an intern.

Yunzhi Xiao, who goes by “Mika”, rounds up the team. She is from China, but she can speak Japanese due to her love of anime. She is learning Spanish, and she plans to major in linguistics.

ECC won the match by a score of 19-2, sweeping the singles games and only dropping one of the doubles games.

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Sam Kong smashes the birdie during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

The format is somewhat arcane: each game is won by whoever reaches 21 first, with a lead of 2 or more. A match consists of 12 games worth 1 point each, 4 doubles games worth 2 points each, and one final tie-breaking doubles game for a total of 21 match points. Think of the blackjack cry: “21, winner, chicken dinner!”

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Sam Kong serves during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

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Chloe Ferrer high-fives her doubles opponent at the end of their game during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

There are only 4 teams in the conference, thus each team plays the other teams three times during the course of the season.

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Maddy Simones and Kalyn Kaemerle shake hands with their doubles opponents under the net after their game during the Compton College badminton match held in North Gym on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Photo credit: Jack Kan

As one can imagine, they all get to know each other pretty well.

The Warriors currently stand undefeated, but they have yet to play conference powerhouse, Pasadena City College next Wednesday, April 4 at 3 p.m. in the North Gym.

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El Camino badminton remain undefeated after 19-2 win over Compton College