By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It didn’t take long for Ruth McQuown to become the best prep female badminton player in Sonoma County and All-Empire Player of the Year.
The Windsor senior began playing the sport a mere three years ago and recently capped her high school career by going undefeated against North Bay League competition.
She then put an exclamation point on the season by winning two matches at the North Coast Section tournament.
McQuown, who also played volleyball for the Jaguars, decided to join the badminton team after observing how much fun her future teammates were having.
“I was hooked from the first day of practice,” she said. “It was a friendly atmosphere and I liked that. Every player was trying to win each point, but more importantly, they were having a good time.”
That demeanor carried over to matches against other schools.
“The competition is friendly and there’s a courtesy for your opponent that I haven’t witnessed in other sports,” she said.
“This past season was the most fun I’ve ever had. The whole year was a highlight, especially senior night when we played Maria Carrillo. The whole gym was decorated and everyone had such a good time. I never stopped smiling.”
After finishing league with a 14-0 record, McQuown went on to the NCS Tournament in Newark and in the first round she defeated Courtney Sheffield from Carondelet, 21-10. 21-9.
She lost her second round match, but then won once in the consolation round.
Her coach, Nikki Grayson, wasn’t surprised McQuown had such a successful season.
“She has an aggressive game,” Grayson said. “She’ll dive for anything.
“I’ll never forget how much fun she had playing. She was always smiling and excited.”
The diving is likely a crossover from volleyball.
“My position in volleyball is defensive specialist,” the 5-foot-6 McQuown said. “I was used to leaving my feet and that’s helped me become a better player in badminton.”
McQuown hopes to play volleyball next fall at Santa Rosa JC and she wishes the school also had a badminton team.
“I’ve had the best time of my life playing badminton,” she said. “It’s a great sport.”
McQuown has figured out a way to remain close to the game. She’s already signed on to be an assistant coach at her alma mater.