EDISON, NJ- She’s a 12 year old seventh grader at Herbert Hoover Middle School, a typical students until you learn that she is a nationally-ranked junior badminton player.

Ragade’s National Junior Tournament Rankings for Under 15 years of age are 44th Girls Singles, 45th Girls Doubles and 93rd Mixed Doubles.

Siya Ragade has been playing badminton since she was six years old. She qualified for and participated in the Super Regionals, which are nationwide tournaments that showcase a variety of sports.

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Even though she has not been able to participate in this year’s Super-Regionals due to PARCC testing, she does not lose her current rank but others can move ahead of her.

Ragade is an avid fan of badminton who aspires to become an Olympic Gold Medalist once she balances out her routine activities.

She considers Saina Nehwal, ranked third in the world in women’s singles and the first Indian to win a medal in Olympic badminton, as her inspiration.

“If she can get there, then I can too,” Ragade said in an interview over the phone.

Her parents, Jaydeep and Sarita Ragade, also motivated her to take badminton seriously at a young age.

“Ever since I was young, my parents encouraged me to play because I had fast reflexes. They also wanted a way for me to stay fit,” Ragade said.

Ragade defined four reasons for her fondness of the sport. She appreciates its time span; since it is an indoor sport, she can play it year-round and she also likes the challenge of badminton’s high demand for hand and foot coordination.

“The game requires strategizing which I like, so it’s not only a physical, but a mental sport too,” Ragade continued. “It’s a non-contact sport, unlike football and soccer.”

Ragade began playing badminton when she lived in India. She played for a year before moving to the United States.

“When I moved to Tennessee, there weren’t many badminton facilities,” Ragade explained. “So, when we moved to New Jersey, the first thing my mom looked for was a badminton facility.”

Ragade has trained since August 2013 to play at a professional, competitive level at the International Badminton Center in Edison. She is trained by two award-winning coaches who challenge and encourage her to do her best.

“They’re great coaches and I’m doing well under their guidance, so I’m happy,” Ragade exclaimed.

In addition to playing badminton, Ragade also sings Indian and Western Classical music. She is also a flutist, a student of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in London.

Sruti Bezwada, a sophomore at J.P. Stevens High School, is participating in the journalism internship program with TAP into Edison.