San Diego--The 2018 California Community College Athletic Association State Women's Badminton Championship Tournament will have a familiar ring to it Thursday-Saturday, May 10-12 at San Diego City College.
The same two teams that battled it out the past two seasons in the team championship final are back again as defending state champ Pasadena City College takes on 2016 champ Fresno City College on Thursday in the third consecutive meeting of the two colleges. Both teams are undefeated with PCC at 12-0 after winning its fourth straight South Coast Conference title and then the SoCal crown in a 15-6 victory on May 2 against PCAC champ Irvine Valley. Coached by Carol Kadingo, Fresno is 9-0 as the Rams swept through their Northern Coast Conference opponents.
The Lancers, directed by head coach Jen Ho, are led by the returning All-American doubles team of Natalie Ong and Amy Huang, who also happen to be Pasadena's No. 1 and No. 2 singles players this season. Fresno returns three middle ladder players from its state finalist of last year in Linda Vue, Bao Vang, and Amy Vang. Vue and Bao Vang are an experienced doubles team. Both of the PCC v. Fresno state title matches were decided by 11-10 scores and each of the last three state finals were by that count. San Diego CC beat De Anza by that score in 2015.
Another repeat showing could occur in individual singles and doubles on May 11-12. Back to defend her singles and doubles state titles is the talented Yukari Naono from Grossmont College. Naono is considered a prohibitive favorite especially being undefeated this season. Naono was the March CCCSIA State Female Athlete of the Month after winning the San Diego Mesa Tournament title. While Naono's doubles partner of last year graduated, her new Griffins partner Michiho Kobayashi has proven to be a worthy player and was the PCAC's No. 2 singles seed going into the tournament. Grossmont's third best player Megumi Tenouchi is the third seed from the PCAC. From Tokyo, Japan, Naono could also have some competition from Irvine Valley's Wan Jie Chen, who was able to knock off both Ong and Huang in the SoCal team final.
In doubles, the PCC duo of Ong-Huang is expected to go far and could be a possible finalist.
Naono is attempting to become just the third player in state history to win back-to-back titles in both singles and doubles. The others were Irvine Valley's Thuy Hoang in 2010-2011 and Pinky Li of De Anza in 2013-2014.
--Release by Robert Lewis, CCCSIA for the CCCAA