All-Empire boys badminton: Trinh combined elite skill set with dynamic work ethic

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa's Alex Trinh (Photo by John Burgess, The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa’s Alex Trinh (Photo by John Burgess, The Press Democrat)

Working on cars takes good hands and precision, much like Alex Trinh displays when he plays badminton.

The future auto specialist is this year’s All-Empire Badminton Boys Player of the Year. Losing only one North Bay League match the past two seasons, Trinh’s final season at Santa Rosa High continued a region tradition of dominance by singles players.

“The kid had never picked up a racket in his life until high school,” said Santa Rosa coach Brett Williams. “Now coaches talk about where he would rank all-time.”

Fast and smart, Trinh played a handful of sports in middle and high school. In badminton he combined elements of each.

Endurance and speed came from cross country and track. Quickness and decision making were borrowed from basketball and wrestling.

“I grew a passion for badminton. It was the sport I fell in love with,” Trinh said. “I always looked forward to the next season.” Badminton first appealed to Trinh in middle school. One’s size didn’t matter. What did count was quickness and mental toughness.

Embracing the gym rat attitude following Santa Rosa high freshman basketball, Trinh worked to become a varsity badminton standout. He would be the top singles player the next three seasons, earning All-Empire honors each year.

“I spent hours in the gym competing,” Trinh said. “I just kept working on my shots to bring me to the next level.”

Still, he stuck with other sports, playing junior varsity basketball two seasons. Trinh wrestled as a sophomore.

“Alex has that rare combination of perfect body and athletic skills. And he works harder than anybody,” Williams said.

Focusing on badminton his senior year, Trinh pushed to compete with Northern California’s best. Tournaments at Berkeley and in the East Bay in the fall and training at University of Sports prepared Trinh for the always difficult North Coast Section finals.

Winning sets if not matches at NCS was Trinh’s reward for reaching the top of his game. “I knew I could play with them. I got so close,” he said. “When you look at it, the hard work paid off.”

What drew Trinh most to badminton — and what made him successful — was an ability to set up and execute shots combined with quickness to defend and stay in points. But first came the power game.

“I could clear farther than most players. And I’ve always had my smash,” he said.

Trinh then became more a student of Badminton.

“He used to be able to outwork everybody. Now his skill set is just amazing,” Williams said.

More consistent serves and deception — set up short and go deep, deftly drop shots over the net — made Trinh too good to beat.

“In badminton you have to be pretty quick and precise,” Trinh said.

Experience winning on the small, fast court should suit Trinh well in his pursuit of a career under the hood of high performance automobiles.

After valet parking at Bohemian Grove this summer, Trinh will take his years in the family garage and high school shop to Universal Technical Institute, in Sacramento.

The automotive service school will certify Trinh to work for many manufacturers. His aim is BMW.

“I like being able to see how everything comes together and see how it works,” Trinh said.

“I am a precision kind of guy.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

ALL-EMPIRE TEAM

BOYS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Alex Trinh, Santa Rosa, Sr.

GIRLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Jennie Tong, Montgomery, Sr.

FIRST TEAM

Boys Singles

Sam Tran, Windsor, Jr.

Justin Bates, Santa Rosa, Sr.

Girls Singles

Claudia Rohrs, Santa Rosa, Jr.

Vicky Nguyen, Piner, Jr.

Boys Doubles

Albert Nguyen, Sr., and Tyler Krause, Sr., Montgomery

Girls Doubles

Lauren Gross, Sr., and Katherine Gross, Sr., Montgomery

Mixed Doubles

Jason Nguyen, Jr., and Tiffany Gaig, Sr., Windsor

SECOND TEAM

Boys Singles

David Harris, Maria Carrillo, Jr.

Mark Diez, Montgomery

Girls Singles

Marissa Nguyen, Maria Carrillo, Sr.

Justine Tiongson, Santa Rosa

Boys Doubles

Josh Hovden, Jr., and Riley Harden, Jr., Analy

Girls Doubles

Emily Hulsman, Jr., and Theodora Po, Jr., Casa Grande

Mixed Doubles

Tommy Wikle, Jr., and Serena Uppal, Jr., Montgomery

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jason Krout, Montgomery

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