One of the great lessons that sports can teach is that you have got to get up after you have been knocked down.
Danielle Mark learned that lesson Monday night at the state 5A badminton semifinals at Shadow Mountain High School. Because she did, she and her Xavier College Preparatory Gator teammates will play for the state title this Wednesday night against Mountain Pointe.
Three weeks ago, I wrote about Danielle and her doubles partner, Carissa Pappas, when they played a Saturday tournament at Chaparral High School (“What most of us don’t know about badminton”). On that day, I asked Danielle what advice she would give young girls who wanted to play badminton.
“Our coach always says, ‘You’ve got to show up,’” Danielle told me on that day. “Show up both mentally and physically.”
Well, on Monday night, Danielle was nowhere to be seen in her singles match against Chaparral’s Joelle Fang, who displayed a deft touch with drop shots and placement. Danielle was skunked in the first game 11-0 and lost the second game 11-8. The match was over before it began. Danielle was frustrated, flustered and upset with herself.
About 45 minutes later it had all turned around. Now playing doubles with Carissa, who had previously won her singles match, Danielle looked like a different player. She was confident and assertive when only a short while earlier she had looked listless and confused.
With Xavier’s other doubles team losing and Chaparral threatening to pull even in the team match, Danielle and Carissa convincingly won their doubles match in straight games, 15-2 and 15-1, and in doing so propelled their team into the state finals.
“It’s not over yet,” said Carissa after the match, “but this is amazing.”
“We have been wanting this from the get go,” said Danielle of the state title. “And now we are so close.”
Xavier will have its hands full on Wednesday with Mountain Pointe, which beat Millennium 5-3 in a spirited group of matches on the other side of the gym. If nothing else, the Mountain Pointe girls should get the tournament award for “most creative team shirts.” Theirs are black and state on the back “We put the Bad in Badminton.”
The essence of a great teammate is showing up when your team needs you the most. Danielle got up after being knocked down on Monday night and now her team moves on.
The 5A badminton state championship will be at Shadow Mountain High School, 2902 E. Shea Blvd, at 6:30pm Wednesday. Admission is $5. The championship should be highly competitive. From what I saw on Monday, if any of the girls gets knocked down, they won’t stay down for very long. — Dan Barr