by Robert Lewis, CCCSIA
(PASADENA) -- It's becoming a habit, but Pasadena City and Fresno City Colleges are making their annual matchup for the state women's badminton team title this Thursday, May 8. The two powers are meeting for the fourth straight season with PCC grabbing the championship in 2017 and 2018 while Fresno looking for another champion trophy to add to its 2016 victory. The team final kicks off the 2019 CCCAA Badminton State Championships which continues Friday and Saturday, May 10-11 with the individual singles and doubles tournament. The 3-day affair takes place this season at Pasadena City College's Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
Fresno made a perfect trip to win the Coast Conference/Norcal championship with an 8-0 record. The Lancers were perfect in winning the South Coast Conference crown (8-0), and are 9-2 overall. PCC advanced to the state final by winning the SoCal championship over host San Diego City College, 12-9, on May 1. In that match, the Lancers had to win two 3-set doubles matches in the final round to recover from a 9-8 deficit.
The Rams won their only state title in the sport at PCC in 2016 and are poised to end PCC's two-year stranglehold on the champion trophy. One thing going their way is the fact that they twice defeated De Anza, a team that handed Pasadena both of its defeats this year in non-conference play. The Lancers lost their second match v. De Anza, 13-8, on April 1 while Fresno posted a 19-2 triumph over the Dons later that week (April 4).
Fresno is led by individual Coast Conference No. 1 singles seed Uyen Napier and No. 3 Soua Kong, last year's state individual runner-up. Kong-Napier also are the No. 2 Coast seed in doubles. Pasadena counters with South Coast Conference #1 Xiaoming Yao and #2 Jessica Lee, who as a pair are the conference's top doubles seed. Veteran head coach Jennifer Ho directs the Lancers while first-year head coach Panhia Vang, who was the No. 1 player from Fresno's '16 state champ and '17 state runner-up as well as a state individual doubles finalist, has a chance to lead FCC to a state team title as first a player and then a coach.
Game time for the team championship final on Thursday is 3 p.m.
In the state individual singles starting Friday, expect Napier and Yao, a state semfinalist last year, to be in the mix while San Diego City's Sum Yin Ngai is a formidable South favorite. Skyline's Paola Candolada, Fresno's Kong, and SDCC's Anita Xayasomloth are others that could reach deep into the championship rounds.
In doubles, Skyline's Katie Tan and Candolada are the top North seed and expect serious competition from the Rams' Kong-Napier, San Diego's Ngai-Xayasomloth and PCC's Yao-Lee. The championship semifinals and finals for both singles and doubles take place on Saturday. Skyline has never won a doubles title while Fresno has yet to have an individual champion in singles or doubles. SDCC has also never had a singles champion and only won in doubles back in 2008.