Xiaoming Yao became the fourth Pasadena City College women's badminton player in the past five years to reach the CCCAA State Individual Singles finals. However, her run, like the Lancers team finish on Thursday, ended as state runner-up on Saturday. The individual tournament took place May 10-11 at PCC's Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
Yao, a sophomore, reached the semifinals last year and made it to the finals with a hard-fought semi match victory over Skyline's Paola Candolada, 21-15, 19-21, 21-11, to reach an all-SoCal singles final. In the finals, San Diego City's Sum Yin Ngai beat an exhausted Yao, 21-11, 21-10, for the '19 state crown.
"Had she been rested, I think she could have given Ngai a better battle," said PCC head coach Jen Ho. "She played doubles and singles and I think her first two matches of the day took a lot out of her. Ngai is a really good player and I think she had some added incentive because we beat San Diego in the SoCal team final. I'm very proud of how Showee played first as a key freshman on our state champion team, and this year as our most consistent player all season."
Yao survived a 3-set marathon over San Diego Mesa's Mikayla Aguilar, 21-16, 15-21, 21-12 in the quarterfinals on Friday.
The last PCC state singles champion was Rebecca Zhou in 2016. Zhou served as a USA Badminton official umpire at this year's championships.
In the doubles semifinals, Yao and letterman partner Jessica Lee were eliminated (but received a medal) by Irvine Valley's Chien Tu and Lulu Yan, 21-15, 21-19. Tu-Yan went on to lose the doubles title, won by Skyline's Candolada and Katie Tan. Yao-Lee won their quarterfinals contest, 21-16, 21-18, over Fresno City's Nari Chang and Stephanie Tran.
"I really thought we had a good chance in doubles, but we never were able to get Jessica's level of play to where it should have been," Ho said. "The two had a great match to win the SoCal team title, so there were moments where we shined."
PCC's doubles pair of Emilee Kintanar and Annjie Li advanced to the consolation bracket semifinals with a quarters win over East Los Angeles' duo of Jessica Zhou and Runfang Liao, 21-19, 21-12, but then were eliminated in straight sets by Grossmont's Huyen Lam and Drew Mendoza.
Jessica Lee (left) with Yao in state individual doubles action.