SoCal runner-up Huskies advance to state singles finals

LOOK AT THE BIRDIE—Yuki Tai (right) reaches out to flick a return of the birdie, while doubles teammate Suki Kwan, set on defense, looks on. CN/TADZIO GARCIALOOK AT THE BIRDIE—Yuki Tai (right) reaches out to flick a return of the birdie, while doubles teammate Suki Kwan, set on defense, looks on. CN/TADZIO GARCIA
LOOK AT THE BIRDIE—East Los Angeles College badminton team member Yuki Tai, right, reaches out to flick a return, while doubles teammate Suki Kwan, set on defense, looks on April 30 in the women’s gym.   CN/TADZIO GARCIA

By Tadzio Garcia

After ending the regular season, 13-0, the ELAC swept the South Coast Conference Individual and Doubles finals last Friday in Manhattan Beach and advances six to the state championships.

The Huskies won the top three spots out of the SCC singles competition and the top two doubles spots as well.

The state individual finals will be held this Friday and Saturday at De Anza College in Cupertino. In the singles matches at the SCC finals, sophomore Khanh Dinh took first place. She beat teammate Yuki Tai in the singles title match who placed fourth.

Pasadena City College took fifth and sixth places, the other state qualifying singles spots. In the doubles competition Dinh and Zhan Wong won the SCC title. They beat teammates Tai and Kwan who took second place.

Both ELAC doubles teams beat Pasadena’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams in the semifinals. ELAC lost the SoCal Regional Finals, at home, to San Diego City College, 17-4, April 30. San Diego reached the state finals for the third consecutive year.

ELAC finished undefeated in 2008 and lost to San Diego in the SoCal finals. “We were tied 3-3 after the first singles (round), but San Diego is a doubles powerhouse and won all doubles matches,” ELAC head coach Qui Nguy said.

Dinh, ELAC’s No. 1 singles player, won both her singles matches 2-1. She ended the last singles match of the day with a 21-19, 18-21, 22-20 win against San Diego’s No. 1 player Darby Duprat. Dinh also beat San Diego’s No. 2 player, Gina Niph, 23-21, 14-21, 21-19.

Down four points and on the brink of losing, Dinh pulled off a rally that got both teams involved by supporting each shot with approvals of “good shot” regardless of the player.

“I wasn’t doing well so I took a deep breath and told myself to just concentrate on each point,” Dinh said. She did to the approval of the home cheers.

Zhan Wong beat Trinh Lang of San Diego, 21-16, 21-8. “(Wong) is a good player. She fought for every point,” San Diego Head Coach Son Nguyen said.
Nguyen said that he wishes for more non-conference competition, but budget cuts make it difficult. ELAC played its first non-conference game in years April 25 at home.

The Huskies finished the regular season with a 20-1 victory against Skyline College of San Bruno at home.

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