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Emma Adcock will switch from doubles competition to singles for Hinsdale South this season. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Hinsdale South badminton star Emma Adcock already has a shiny bauble for her home — the gold medal she got for winning the state doubles championship last spring with partner Brittany DeClouette.
Now she’s after something to decorate the office, which in her case is the hallway outside her school’s gymnasium. The object she has in mind is about two feet tall and made of wood — a state team trophy.
Hinsdale South, which won five trophies, including three championships, between 1999 and 2008, has finished fourth in each of the past two years, falling one point shy of winning a trophy each time. Adcock, a senior, is determined to help the Hornets bring one home.
“It’s always a goal to try for a better place,” Adcock said. “I think we can do it. We’re going to work toward it the whole season.”
The Hornets will do so with a different strategy, with Adcock moving over to singles. That shouldn’t be too hard of an adjustment for her because she was a state qualifier in singles as a sophomore, reaching the second round at the 2011 state meet.
And Adcock has thrived on change in the past. Despite never having played doubles before, she and since-graduated DeClouette breezed to a 52-1 record to become Hinsdale South’s third pair of state champions since 1999.
“It will be a whole different story this year, I’m sure,” Adcock said. “At first I was like I could never play doubles and then I got so used to it. I fell in love with doubles and now it will be a good new start to go back to singles, but it will be different at the same time.”
That’s because Adcock is a captain for the first time and as the most experienced player on the team will shoulder a heavy leadership load. But it’s a role she embraces.
“It’s very exciting,” Adcock said. “I like it.”
Interestingly, she doesn’t feel pressure to do more.
“She’s reached the pinnacle of what girls want to do as a badminton player and she’s got the state championship,” Hinsdale South coach John Charters said. “Anything that happens this year will just be icing on the cake.
Regardless of what happens, she always knows nobody can ever take that state championship away from her, so that takes all the pressure off her.”
Adcock, who was a three-time doubles state qualifier in tennis, feels she is better prepared for singles after her doubles experience.
“From doubles I’ve learned to be a lot more aggressive but at the right time, so I think before when I played singles the aggressiveness wasn’t always translated into the right shots,” Adcock said. “Hopefully now I can take that over and use that to my advantage.”
Singles wasn’t completely off Adcock’s radar last spring. She regularly practiced against former star Andrea McNally and won the West Suburban Gold championship at No. 2 singles.
“Andrea has always been a big role model for me,” Adcock said. “I definitely learned a lot from her game. She’s very good at choosing her shots and she was a very powerful player so I hope I can follow her footsteps.”
That includes leadership. Like McNally, Adcock is an excellent student — she scored 31 on the ACT, has a 5.57 GPA on a 5.0 scale and likely will attend Boston College, where she has been accepted into the nursing program — and good role model for her younger teammates.
As such, Adcock is concentrating more on the team than herself, even though she has a shot at becoming just the second player in state history to win both singles and doubles championships.
Stevenson’s Miwa Kuniwake is the only girl to do it, winning doubles in 1997 and singles in 1998. Palatine’s Maggie Van Grondelle, who won doubles in 2011 and finished fifth in singles last year, is one of the few to even get the chance that Adcock now has.
“That’s always a goal, but I’m just going to try to do my best and see how far that will take me,” Adcock said. “The team is always No. 1.”
“[A team trophy] is ultimately what means more than anything else and I think that’s why she’s going to push the other girls more so than herself,” Charters said. “She’s going to be so much less concerned about herself than she is making sure that everybody else gets up there so we don’t lose it by half a point and we may end up winning it by half a point this year.”