By William Hernandez
East Los Angeles College is the 2014 South Coast Conference badminton champions. They swept a double header against El Camino College 11-2 and 11-1 on April 16 to win the title then shut out El Camino College Compton Center, 21-0, last Friday at the Women’s Center.
“In all my years watching badminton, this is by far one of the best teams we have had. What makes them so good this year, is that they actually like playing with each other,” ELAC Athletic Trainer Diane Stankevitz said.
Undefeated ELAC will put their 11-0 overall record on the line against conference rival Pasadena City College (8-3), 3 p.m. today at home in the women’s gym, to close out SCC play.
“Today will be a really good game. Even though we have already defeated them (PCC) three-times, they come back stronger each time,” ELAC Head Coach Qui Nguy said.
Compton showed up with just three players to and had to forfeit four points as a result. Compton Head Coach Tony Diaz tried to forfeit the entire match, but Nguy opted to play it out.
“We have already won the conference, but we’re still chasing an undefeated record. I wanted the girls to finish up strong and rally into next week,” Nguy said.
ELAC’s No. 1 doubles team of Suki Kwan and team captain Yuki Tai, dominated Compton’s No. 2 team of Lina Gonzalez and Ari Rodriguez, 21-1, 21-1. ELAC’s No. 2 doubles team, Han Le and Rose Cheng, slipped past Compton’s Gonzalez and Rodriguez during the final rotation of the match.
“(ELAC is) well trained, disciplined and can communicate very good with each other. Like in doubles, they know where each other is supposed to stand,” Diaz said.
ELAC’s No. 1 singles player against Compton, Tai, defeated Compton’s No.1 player Jessica Phillips, 21-17, 21-16.
“I liked their spirit, because even though they only had three players, (Phillips) still competed,” Tai said.
“Everybody (ELAC) has improved since the first time we practiced because (we) are making sure to correct (our) previous mistakes. We’re very fortunate to have this group together,” Tai said.
“I love playing with (teammates) because we are like a family. We travel and play together. We were encouraged after we won our first match against Compton, because we knew that we could get to where we are now,” Tai said.
According to Nguy, the team practices during the week and on Saturday’s on their own time, and credit’s most of their success to the unity and team leadership Tai has created.
“It all goes back to the team unity. At practice we’ll do foot-drills and then play against each other to spot those crucial mistakes and erase them,” Nguy said.
Tai communicates effectively with her teammates which has allowed Nguy to get his message across to the rest of the team , also according to Nguy.
“Tai has done an excellent job of staying on top of her teammates, making sure that they’re on time and that kind of stuff, but sometimes I notice that it is harder for some of the girls to come and talk to me,” Nguy said.
“So it is easier to get my message across through Tai. She continues to grow as both a badminton player and team leader.”