By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sweeping the six boys positions, Santa Rosa’s badminton team edged host Montgomery, 8-7, on Tuesday to assume sole possession of first place in the NBL.
Both schools came into the match with 3-0 league records.
The best male player to take the court was Oliver Staten. He defeated Carl Qi 21-12 and 21-19 at No. 1 singles and then came back to partner with Josue Gutierrez to win No. 1 boys doubles. The Panthers’ duo defeated Qi and Anthony Goldstone 21-19, 17-21 and 21-14.
“Staten’s not a super athlete but he does everything well,” coach Brett Williams said. “He’s just so consistent and his shot selection is amazing.”
Qi, his opponent in both matches, came away impressed.
“He got to my backhand with shots that were right on the line,” the senior said. “He’s a good player.”
Santa Rosa’s other singles winners were Pasang Sherpa, Liam Galbraith and Philip Kong.
“Our boys singles players haven’t dropped a set all year,” Williams said. “It’s really a strong group.
“Galbraith played No. 1 for us last season and wound up being selected All-Empire Player of the Year. This season, he’s playing No. 3.”
While Santa Rosa had the dominant boys, Montgomery swept the girls matches.
Leading the way was Grace Kouch. The junior defeated Amanda Lau 21-5, 21-16, at No. 1 singles and came back to team up with Josie Fish to win No. 1 doubles over Ashlee Ruggels and Emily Staten (21-15, 21-11).
“My strategy in the singles match was to move the birdie away from my opponent,” Kouch said. “I was able to do that and make her hit off-balance shots.
“In the doubles match, I was happy with the way we played as a team. We were calling our shots early and there was no confusion over who was going to hit the return.”
Other singles winners for the Vikings were Fish, Karen Cai and Gina Audiss.
Santa Rosa took two of the three mixed doubles matches. Sherpa and Ruggles won at No. 1 and Gutierrrez and Olivia Hernandez prevailed at No. 3.
Sherpa-Ruggles won in straight sets while Gutierrez-Hernandez needed three sets to secure the victory.
Montgomery will get another shot at Santa Rosa when the schools meet April 30 in the Panthers’ gym.