A lot of individuals with previous championship experience stood proud on stage at Braddock on Tuesday afternoon during the GMAC badminton tournament.
The team trophy went to someone new, however.
Led by its doubles teams and an outstanding overall effort, Southwest Miami emerged with the county title after doubling the score of all other teams, including runner-up and previous champion Palmetto.
The Eagles won what is believed to be their first GMAC title in over two decades.
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“These kids have been really dedicated, and it’s a tremendous accomplishment for our program at the school,” said Southwest coach Marta Guinea, who has coached the badminton team for the past 10 years after a successful run as the school’s girls’ volleyball coach.
Laura Morales, a GMAC champion in girls’ doubles last year with her sister Claudia, teamed up this year with Madison Chamizo to win the same division. Their 21-12, 21-15 win over Coral Gables’ Francis Perez and Gaitana Jaramillo gave Southwest one of its two individual titles. The other came in mixed doubles, where Jackie Camacho and Christian Gonzalez beat Palmetto’s Angela Liu and Gardner Blackburn 21-15, 21-8.
Southwest had third-place finishes in mixed doubles, both singles divisions and boys’ doubles.
Killian senior Jason Harris became the third GMAC badminton champion in his family when he won the boys’ singles title with a 21-19, 21-10 win over Braddock’s Mario Lopez. Harris’ older brother, Jack, won last year’s boys’ singles title and eldest brother, Ryan, won boys’ doubles when he was in high school for Killian. All three siblings have also played volleyball at Killian, and Jason’s two brothers have since enrolled at the University of Florida, where he is headed this fall.
“It was a lot of pressure because I wanted to win to keep the family tradition going,” Harris said. “My brother Jack taught me how to play this game. It’s a lot more competitive than people think, and [it’s] tiring, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Sunset’s Katherine Espinosa, also a two-sport star, won her second consecutive girls’ singles title with a 21-6, 21-7 win over Coral Gables’ Lauren Kerzner.
Palmetto’s Jeffrey Li and Aaron Mares also repeated as champions in the boys’ doubles division with a 21-13, 21-14 win over Coral Reef’s Joseph David and Sebastian Salathe.
Team scores: 1. Southwest 16; 2. Palmetto 8; 3. Coral Gables 6; 4. Braddock, Killian, Coral Reef, Sunset 4; 8. Varela 2; 9. South Miami 1. Individual results - Boys’ singles: Jason Harris (KIL) d. Mario Lopez (BR) 21-19, 21-10; Girls’ singles: Katherine Espinosa (SUN) d. Lauren Kerzner (CG) 21-6, 21-7; Boys’ doubles: Jeffrey Li/Aaron Mares (PAL) d. Joseph David/Sebastian Salathe (CR) 21-13, 21-14; Girls’ doubles: Laura Morales/Madison Chamizo (SW) d. Francis Perez/Gaitana Jaramillo (CG) 21-12, 21-15; Mixed doubles: Jackie Camacho/Christian Gonzalez (SW) d. Angela Liu/Gardner Blackburn (PAL) 21-15, 21-8.