"An extraordinary player and an extraordinary young woman"
Friends’ own Rita Li '2020 earned her 2nd consecutive IAAM A Conference singles championship on Friday, May 3, dismantling her challenger from Notre Dame Prep in two straight games, 20-2 and 20-3, to claim the trophy for the Quakers.
An international student at Friends from China, Li is nationally ranked in her sport and, since arriving in Baltimore her sophomore year, has dominated the IAAM A conference “like no player I have ever seen in the 17 years I’ve been coaching badminton,” said Varsity Badminton coach and Upper School English teacher Tom Buck.
Elite athletes often bypass their high school teams to focus on club play. Li not only competes regularly at the Loch Raven Badminton Club under the tutelage of former Friends coach Vincent Nguy, she also doubles as an assistant coach in practice, running a busy drill court through which she cycles virtually all of the Varsity and JV players, working especially with singles players. She is visibly excited by their victories, disappointed by their losses.
“Rita is both an extraordinary player and an extraordinary young woman,” says Buck. “As prominent as Kyle Harrison ’01 was in lacrosse, Rita is every bit as dominant in badminton, which, unlike lacrosse, is an Olympic sport. If a few years down the road, she’s playing on that Olympic stage, I hope that like me, you’ll be up at 2 am watching.”