Illinois State University duo Jessica Whitney-Johnson and Olivia Lewis traveled to Champaign in early April to compete in an open tournament, taking second place among the competitors.

Fairly new to the club sports program, the badminton club has excelled in recent semesters and continues to grow both in size and popularity.

“It’s kind of an unknown new sport but it’s growing fast,” Whitney-Johnson said. “It’s a great way to meet people. I have met so many people who love the club and we would love to have more.”

The tournament consisted of other schools such as Eastern Illinois, University of Illinois and Iowa. Also in attendance were teams from the surrounding areas, including little kids and adults.

“Most of the tournaments we go to are open to the public,” Lewis said.

Preparing for the tournament saw practices Monday and Wednesday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The duo went into the tournament with a lighthearted mentality, not expecting the victorious results.

“We went to U of I to have fun and see where it goes, there were a lot of good players playing and we all did really well, it just worked out for us,” Whitney-Johnson said.

Stunned and excited by their second-place finish, Whitney-Johnson and Lewis represented Illinois State well, coming home with the only medals for ISU.

“It was a really good feeling,” Whitney-Johnson said. “We weren’t expecting anything out of it.”

“It felt really nice,” Lewis said.

Lewis, a freshman accounting major, is wrapping up her first year on the team. She and junior dietician nutrition major Whitney-Johnson, have both been playing badminton since high school and were excited to be involved in the up-and-coming club at ISU.

“We have a competitive team and a non-competitive team,” Whitney-Johnson said. “So if you want to come and play, you don’t have to be too serious.”

The pair met this year on the team and instantly clicked, which is evident based on their success in recent tournaments.

“We are pretty big goofballs,” Lewis said. “You have to be comfortable with each other on the court and know where we are on the court to have a good time.”

Although the team has finished practices and competitions for the year, both Whitney-Johnson and Lewis are looking forward to returning to ISU and the badminton team in the fall.

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