Sophomores Natalie Ong and Amy Huang, who earlier in the week helped Pasadena City College to its second consecutive state team championship, finished their Lancers careers as state doubles runner-up at the CCCAA State Women's Badminton Individual Tournament held Friday-Saturday at San Diego City College.
Ong-Huang had hopes of an upset over the defending state singles/doubles champ in Grossmont's Yukari Naono and her partner Michiho Kobayashi. The Lancers lost a big lead in the opening set but played valiantly in losing in three sets, 21-17, 17-21, 21-12, in the state final.
In the first set, Ong-Huang used a variety of power shots and forehand drops to build a commanding 16-11 lead. An uncharacteristic series of unforced errors helped Grossmont go on a 10-1 scoring run to take a 1-0 sets lead. In the second set, the Lancers pair again jumped out to a 16-11 lead, but on the next point Ong ended a long rally with a beautiful drop shot that just cleared the net. The point seemed to spur the Lancers as they went on to finish off the set 2 win.
In the final set, the Lancers grabbed a 3-2 lead, but Naono and Kobayashi used hard overhead smashes that resulted in several net or wide returns that allowed the Griffins duo to go on to a 9-point set win and capture the state crown.
"We scouted the Grossmont ladies and I felt we had a really good shot of winning," said PCC head coach Jen Ho. "That first set was heartbreaking because we had them and it just go away from us. I'm so proud of Natalie and Amy because they fought back to win that second set and worked really hard all match. They were such a big part of our state team titles and I think that will be something they will cherish more."
One of the big surprises of the individual tourney was the play of PCC's No. 4 singles player Xiaoming Yao, who won three matches and made it all the way to picking up a medal for making the state championship semifinals round. The freshman Yao put up a battle in the longest match of Saturday as she was outlasted by Irvine Valley's top player Wan Jie Chen, 21-14, 10-21, 21-16. Chen went on to lose to Naono in a hard-fought match in the state singles final as the Grossmont sophomore became just the third player in the sport's history to win back-to-back singles and doubles state titles.
A complete look at all the Lancers individual matches can be found at the link below: