By Robert Lewis, CCCSIA
(PASADENA) -- Fresno City College dominated the bottom four singles contests, 8-0, as the Rams captured the 2019 CCCAA women's badminton state championship, 12-5, over host Pasadena City College Thursday at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
Fresno finished the year with a perfect 9-0 record in now tying PCC, 2-2, in state titles since 2016. The Lancers (9-3) won the state title in 2017 and 2018. Ironically, the Rams won for the second time on PCC's home floor as they did when they picked up their first-ever state title in the sport in '16.
FCC head coach Panhia Vang has the distinction of directing a state champion team in her first year of coaching after she won as the Rams' top singles player in 2016.
"It's an awesome feeling," Vang said of winning as a head coach. "We worked hard and our whole team played well. Our No. 2 player Uyen Napier stepped up for us and got better during the second-half of the season."
Napier recovered from a loss to PCC's No. 1 Xiaoming Yao in the first round by first teaming with Rams' #1 player Soua Kong to win v. the Lancers No. 2 doubles pair of Jessica Lee-Huyen Diep, 21-6, 21-19. In the third round singles, the 37-year-old Napier, from Vietnam, scored a win over PCC's #2 player Lee, 21-12, 21-19.
"Badminton is a sport where in a team setting everyone has to contribute," Napier said. "We had a true team and some of the others we faced had some great No. 1 or No. 2 players but not a whole team. Playing for Coach Panhia was so helpful because she knew what to prepare for, and what it was like as a player playing at state only a few years ago. Her training from the start of the season was very strong and helped us improve."
The Fresno lower ladder players, #3 Nari Chang, #4 Stephanie Tran, #5 Dominique Yang and #6 Shakaila Eddings each swept two singles matches each while Yang-Eddings tallied a win in #3 doubles over PCC's Nicole Ching and Annjie Li, 21-8, 21-6.
PCC's points came primarily from the sophomore Yao, who scored the only two singles wins for the Lancers, including a 21-16, 21-18 triumph over Kong. She teamed with Sophia Nguyen as the #1 doubles in a win over Fresno's second pair of Chang-Tran.
Lancers head coach Jen Ho had an interesting take on her program's fourth state final appearance.
"I'm proud about this year because I did not expect us to get as far as we did," Ho said. "It was different in our two state champion years because we were the favorites and we were much better than everyone else. This year, we didn't have as strong a team and we had one real consistent player in Xiaoming. But we found a way to beat San Diego City in the SoCal final, and that was kind of our championship. We knew Fresno was a better than us and they showed that today."
The CCCAA State Badminton Individual Singles and Doubles Championships will take place Friday and Saturday, May 10-11. Friday's action begins at 12 noon.
FRESNO CITY 12, PASADENA CITY 5
SINGLES, ROUND 1
#1 Soua Kong (Fresno) loses to #2 Jessica Lee (PCC), 21-18, 12-21, 21-13
#2 Uyen Napier (Fresno) loses to #1 Xiaoming Yao (PCC), 21-13, 21-11
#3 Nari Chang (Fresno) d. #4 Huyen Diep (PCC), 21-9, 21-3
#4 Stephanie Tran (Fresno) d. #3 Sophia Nguyen (PCC), 21-18, 21-16
#5 Dominique Yang (Fresno) d. #6 Emilee Kintanar (PCC), 21-4, 21-13
#6 Shakaila Eddings (Fresno) d. #5 Nicole Ching (PCC), 21-6, 21-10
DOUBLES, ROUND 2
#1 Kong-Napier (Fresno) d. #2 Lee-Diep (PCC), 21-6, 21-19
#2 Chang-Tran (Fresno) loses to Yao-Nguyen (PCC), 21-18, 21-12
#3 Yang-Eddings (Fresno) d. Ching-Annjie Li (PCC), 21-8, 21-6
SINGLES, ROUND 3
Kong loses to Yao, 21-16, 21-18
Napier d. Lee, 21-12, 21-19
Chang d. Nguyen, 21-19, 21-19
Tran d. Diep, 21-10, 21-9
Yang d. Ching, 21-8, 21-7
Eddings d. Kintanar, 21-10, 21-4
Coach Panhia Vang with the championship trophy in directing Fresno City College to the 2019 state title.