Streaks Continue As 2-Time Defending State Champ Women's Badminton Opens '19 Season

Xiaoming Yao backhanding volley is one of two lettermen returning from the 2018 state champion badminton team. She is in action during the team's season-opening win Friday with teammate Sophia Nguyen, photo by Richard Quinton.
Xiaoming Yao backhanding volley is one of two lettermen returning from the 2018 state champion badminton team. She is in action during the team's season-opening win Friday with teammate Sophia Nguyen, photo by Richard Quinton.

The party continues for the 2-time defending, CCCAA state champion Pasadena City College women's badminton team. The Lancers opened the 2019 season with a 17-4 romp over visiting El Camino on Friday at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.

PCC continued a number of winning streaks including now 27 straight matches overall, 40 consecutive South Coast Conference victories, and 47 regular season matches in a row. 

Coach Jennifer Ho, in her fifth season, brings back just two lettermen from the 2018 state champion squad and both will be her top two singles players and are on each of the top two doubles squads in '19. At No. 1 is Xiaoming Yao, a state singles semifinalist last year, who is back as one of the state's top players along with Jessica Lee, the team's No. 4 player a year ago who won two singles matches and teamed with Yao on No. 2 doubles to win two other matches during PCC's state finals victory over Fresno City College. 

The Lancers are carrying eight freshmen with the best of the bunch being Sophia Nguyen, from Baldwin Park High. Nguyen is playing No. 1 doubles with Yao and is slated as the Lancers' No. 3 singles, a spot that Yao occupied last season. Others on the opening-season ladder were freshmen Rose Huynh (Rosemead High) at #4, Huyen Diep (Temple City) at #5, and Emilee Kintanar (Glendale Adventist Academy) at #6. 

Against El Camino, Yao defeated El Camino's No. 2 Sunya Ungar, 21-1, 21-10 and then sub Nicole Ching (from Hong Kong) played v. ECC's No. 1 Lauren Ritter and lost, 21-7, 21-4. Lee downed Ritter, 21-3, 21-10, while Kintanar subbed for Lee and lost to Ungar, 21-19, 21-9. Nguyen won two singles contests, beating Warriors' #3 Miyu Kawaguchi, 21-9, 21-3, and #4 Angela Vargas, 21-5, 21-5. Sub Annjie Li (Alhambra) beat Vargas, 21-5, 21-19, while Huynh lost to Kawaguchi, 22-20, 22-20. Diep beat #5 Christina Johnson, 21-10, 21-10. Sub Audrey Chia (Temple City) lost a close one to Johnson, 21-12, 16-21, 21-18. 

In doubles, Pasadena #1 Yao-Nguyen rolled over ECC's #2 pair of Kawaguchi-Vargas, 21-5, 21-5. The #2 Lancers duo of Lee-Ching went three sets in each of their wins, 16-21, 21-9, 21-18 victory over #1 Ritter-Ungar, and 21-15, 16-21, 23-21 over Kawaguchi-Vargas. Seven of the Lancers' team points were by forfeit as El Camino had just five players. 

Ho said about the '19 team: "We have several newcomers that are going to get better we hope as the season progresses. The big key is that we have three top players in Xiaoming, Jessica and Sophia. We expect Xiaoming to be going far at state individuals. You never know what other teams have on their rosters, so it's going to be interesting to see how good some of the best players from the Orange Empire Conference and the North conference really are. Our goal is to win state again especially since we are hosting this year's championships."

The only player to not play in the opener was Chau Lam, a freshman from Temple City High.

Next Friday, Mar. 8, the Lancers will play a doubleheader at Compton College with the opening match at 2 p.m.