Deerfield’s Gerri Soren shines in front of former mentors

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During her freshman and sophomore years on the Deerfield badminton team, Gerri Soren was mentored by Cara Silverman and Marissa Levy.

With college out for the summer, Silverman and Levy were back in Deerfield in time to watch Soren, a junior, compete in the Deerfield Sectional May 8. What they saw was a player who had made dramatic improvement from her sophomore season.

“We were really proud of her,” Silverman said. “She worked very hard and has always been extremely passionate about badminton.”

Soren said it meant a lot to her to have Silverman and Levy in the stands.

“It was a great advantage to have their support,” Soren said. “It got us focused and excited. They’ve been such great mentors for me and really showed me the ropes.”

Soren and senior Nicki Flynn each qualified for the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Eastern Illinois in Charleston. Soren placed first at the sectional, defeating Evanston’s Keegan Joyce in the final. Flynn finished in fourth place.

During the regular season, Soren and Flynn had records of 31-7 and 28-14, respectively.

Deerfield coach Edee Madsen said Soren and Flynn push each other in practice. Their battles help prepare both players for tough matches.

“They’re good for each other in singles, and they also play doubles together,” she said. “Even though they sometimes play like singles players, they’re pretty solid as a doubles team.”

This season, Soren has been able to display a well-rounded game that features both power and finesse.

“She’s got huge power and very good touch,” Madsen said. “She’s poised when she plays and doesn’t let emotion take her out of matches. She’s very coachable and understands [how to] make strategic changes on her own.”

Badminton is a sport that runs in Soren’s family. Her mom played at the University of Pennsylvania.

“She definitely knows what she’s talking about,” Soren said.

Soren did not play the game competitively until high school. She remembers having fun in her first couple of practices as a freshman, but she really engaged with badminton after watching her first varsity match

“It was a totally different perspective,” she said. “I realized this is what badminton is supposed to look like.”

As her physical skills progressed, Soren became particularly fascinated with the mental side of the game.

“At this level, everyone has all the shots,” she said. “It’s about how they’re going to use them and in what order. Figuring out the other player’s strategy is like [piecing together] a puzzle.”

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