A productive summer for Naperville North's Manikonda

This summer it wasn't so much a vacation for Bhaavya Manikonda, in one sense.

The Naperville North junior, defending state badminton champion and runner-up as a freshman, earned silver medals in both singles and doubles at the 28th Pan American Junior Badminton Championships, July 16-20 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

It was Manikonda's second international competition. She qualified in singles for the Pan Am Juniors in 2018 in Brazil, but for her Brazil wasn't beautiful that time of year. She was quickly ousted.

"I didn't win any games that year, it was not that fun," she said. "It was more of a vacation really for me."

A badminton player of Manikonda's caliber is not used to being one and done. Playing in the 17-Under class in Moncton, the 16-year-old exacted revenge on the field in singles and in doubles matches with Fremd's Rachel Ye, whom Manikonda had beaten in the IHSA semifinals in May. Manikonda also competed in mixed doubles, eliminated in the tournament's third day.

"I was so glad I didn't have a repeat," said Manikonda, also on Naperville North's girls golf team and debate team. "Going in I already knew I'd play three matches instead of one because I was in three events."

Manikonda, who has played the sport for about five and a half years, won her first three singles matches before falling in three sets to Canada's Jeslyn Chow. Manikonda and Ye lost in the finals to a doubles team also with Chow.

Already a veteran of competitions from Massachusetts to Seattle, Manikonda's goal is to qualify for the World Junior Championships. This summer's Pan Ams lifted her spirits.

"It was like affirmation because it doesn't help the self esteem when you lose in the first round," she said. "But this year was a lot better, helped me be more confident, and not take into account previous losses."

Kicking it

For all Katelynne Hart's awards and accolades - two-time Gatorade Illinois girls athlete of the year for both cross country and track, three-time defending Class 3A cross country champion, seven-time state champion in track - the Glenbard West senior is not taking it easy.

At the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational Sept. 7 at Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale, Hart set the girls course record with a time of 16 minutes, 28.7 seconds, a pace of 5:30 a mile. Hart won the race by more than a minute and broke the record of 16:35 set in 2014 by former Hilltopper Lindsay Graham. (It should be noted Hinsdale Central won the team title.)

That makes Hart 2-for-2 setting course records this season, Glenbard West coach Paul Hass said. Hart did the same in a dual with Downers Grove North on Sept. 3 at Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville.

"What is interesting is that last Saturday she fell in the creek, slipped on a tree root, and took a wrong turn that may have cost her, perhaps, 15 or more seconds yet still broke the course record of 16:35 by seven seconds," Hass said.

The century mark

Nancy Kerrigan has a ways to go to approach her former coach, but she's cleared one landmark. On Aug. 29 Kerrigan won her 100th match as IC Catholic Prep girls head volleyball coach.

Known also by her married name, Nancy D'Amore, Kerrigan graduated in 1985 from what was then Immaculate Conception. She was captain of coach Jean Field's 1984 Class A championship team, then played at Marquette. Kerrigan returned as an assistant coach for 11 seasons before Field retired in 2014 and Kerrigan took over.

Field is listed eighth on IHSA records with 887 matches won over 39 years. Her final victory came in the 2013 Class 2A championship.

Entering Thursday's match at Bishop McNamara, Kerrigan was up to 107 victories as the Knights started the season 9-0, having swept five matches at the Timothy Christian-Westmont Invite.

"I have a fantastic group of young ladies on my team this year and to hit the 100 mark with them is what I will remember most," she said. "It's about the players and their hard work, not so much about me."

Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1

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