A 15-year-old sophomore at Hillsdale High School, Frankie Corbett has spent more than half her life playing badminton competitively.
And the fire still burns as hot now as ever.
Corbett spent last week in Guatemala City, Guatemala, competing in the Pan Am Games’ women’s badminton doubles tournament with doubles partner Allison Lee, a sophomore at Gunn in Palo Alto.
The two returned Monday afternoon with a silver medal after winning their first three matches and falling to a Canadian pair in the championship game — a tandem with 10 years experience on the young Bay Area duo.
“She lives and breathes [badminton],” said Gerry Corbett, Frankie’s dad. “The Canadians are in their mid-20s. They have 64 international wins and Francesca and Allison have four.”
With a world ranking of 264 from the Badminton World Federation, Corbett and Lee were simply not happy being at the Pan Am Games, however. The pair had won the 2019 Junior Pan Am Games gold medal and, despite being the youngest pair in the tournament this year, Corbett and her partner definitely had expectations.
The U.S. pair, which did not drop a set until the championship match, opened tournament play with a 21-16, 21-16 victory over the team from Mexico. They followed that with a dominant 21-9, 21-6 win over a Colombian tandem. In the semifinals, they beat a team from Argentina, 21-5, 21-13.
Corbett and Lee put up in a fight in the first set of the title match, but got rolled in the second, dropping a 21-12, 21-7 decision.
“I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to compete with those high-level players. It has really taught me what I need to improve on,” Corbett said. “Now, I’m just hoping for a rematch.”
The tournament was the first for Corbett in more than a year. She played a couple matches with the Hillsdale badminton team last spring before the season — and the world — was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Corbett continued to train, while also doing distance learning. She continued her classwork while out of the country and Gerry Corbett said as soon as they got back from the airport, Frankie went straight to her desk to start homework.
The younger Corbett said she enjoys the juggling act of balancing her badminton training and playing, along with her schoolwork — and piano lessons, two days a week.
“I like taking on the challenge of balancing school and badminton. When I can do great things in both, I feel really satisfied,” Corbett said. “I don’t try to overthink anything. … On the court, I just focus on what I can do to be a better player. Keeping (school and badminton) separate has helped me. I don’t get distracted by either one.”
Corbett said while she will continue to seek out and play in adult-level tournaments, she still plans on playing junior tournaments so she can qualify for the Junior Pan Am and Junior Worlds — all with her badminton sights set on the 2024 and 2028 Olympic cycles.
“Right now, 2024 and 2028 are the big dreams, but right now, I want to play more tournaments and get more experience,” Corbett said. “In the Pan Am region, we’re more well known. I think our age factors into the perception. We’re known as the youngest people there.
“The next step is to get our names out there to Asian countries and European (countries).”
Keep racking up top-3 tournament finishes at the senior level and Corbett and Lee names will be well known in the larger badminton circles sooner than later.
Lydia Foust, a junior midfielder for the Marquette University women’s lacrosse team, was named to the All-Big East First Team.
Foust, a Redwood City resident who played basketball and lacrosse at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, was third on the Marquette team in points (34) and scored 28 goals. Foust scored in all but three matches and had nine multi-goal games and five games where she scored three or more goals.
Marquette was 7-9 on the season, but ended on a two-game winning streak.