HaNeul Jeong-McDonell watched the others celebrate the championships.

She finished second in the Individual State Badminton Tournament last year. She lost the St. Paul City Conference individual final this year. She and her St. Paul Highland Park teammates finished fourth in the tag team tournament this year.

These missed opportunities led the senior. She took her last chance and won the individual title in the Edina High School State Tournament, which helped her become the Star Tribune Metro Badminton Player of the Year for 2022.

We finished fourth – which is still pretty good overall, but it’s still fourth,” said Jeong-McDonell. “I was hungry to be first and really represent myself as an individual player.

Jeong-McDonell defeated St. Paul Washington’s Cinderella Nwe 21-12, 21-14 in the championship game. After falling to Nwe in the conference tournament, Jeong-McDonell knew what she would be up against in the state tournament: high, arching serves landing on the sidelines.

“His serves were extraordinarily high and precise. They landed right on the line. It was hard to judge whether I should hit or not, which cost me a lot of points,” Jeong-McDonell said. “After she beat me in that match, all my other opponents also tried to serve me high. It ended up benefiting me in the long run.

“I just knew that you had to anticipate those high serves better. [Coach Kathleen Kramer] and practiced different ways of receiving and rendering high services.”

Jeong-McDonell leaves high school as an individual champion with a team spirit.

“The team environment just added a lot of fun and positive memories and everything,” she said. “I’m really grateful to have a good team that gets along socially as well.”