Winning isn't everything for badminton duo

Seniors Jessica Hirsh and Stephanie Venturelli (center in blue) stand on the stage with their rewards in hands as they have took third place in the IHSA girls’ badminton state tournament at Eastern Illinois University May 16. This is the second year in a row that Hirsh and Venturelli have placed third in the tournament, and are glad they end the season on a high note. “It’s exciting [to get third place], but we both wanted more, but third place is still great, and we could not have asked for anything more,” Venturelli said.
By Jack Ryan (@ryan_jack11)
Seniors Jessica Hirsh and Stephanie Venturelli looked at each other with fear and nerves but also with confidence as they walked onto the badminton court together. They knew this could be the last time they played with each other when the pair versed Oaklawn Community High School in the first round of the IHSA girls’ badminton state tournament.
“There were a lot of nerves [in our first game], but the team that we played also had nerves as well,” Hirsh said. “I mean everyone had nerves., and you’re all kind of in the same boat [with everybody] just trying to advance [to the next round].”
The two swung their rackets and then had a shared sense of joy and relief as the two of them won their first game at the tournament.
The two walked off that court with a sense of happiness, along with a mentality set to win it all heading into the next and possibly last badminton game ever.
Through raw sweat and six games later, Hirsh and Venturelli achieved the third place title out of 64 teams in the state tournament once again at Eastern Illinois University, as the pair took third place in last year’s state tournament as well.
According to both Hirsh and Venturelli, they are proud of the achievements they have accomplished this year as doubles partners for the third year in a row.
“It’s exciting [to get third place], but we both wanted more, but third place is still great, and we couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Venturelli said.
The two athletes both wanted to improve from last year’s finish and were aiming to get second or first place in the doubles section of the tournament. After they won third place again, Hirsh talked to her mom and both of them realized that winning isn’t everything.
“She said, ‘Winning doesn’t teach you anything, and you learn by losing, and you learn by dealing with loss,’” Hirsh said. “I think losing, while I guess it’s not ideal, it’s a good learning experience, and I’m glad that [the tournament] didn’t go easy for us, and that we had to work for it, because then, I mean, where’s the fun in blowing everyone out of the water?”
At the end of day, according to Hirsh and Venturelli it was a great way to end their badminton career at Prospect even if they did not achieve their goal of getting second. According to both of them, they played the best they could, and were content with how they played at the tournament.
“I think definitely it was a great way to end our season,” Hirsh said. “Like I said we’ve been thinking about this moment our entire lives, and winning the third place match, while I guess it wasn’t the championship match, it was still a really important match, and all the feelings were there of winning. It was a good way to go out, and Steph and I throughout all these years maintained a really good friendship, which a lot of doubles teams can’t say they’re friends off the court as well, and I think [our season] just ended very well.”