By Tadzio Garcia
In 2008 and 2014, the East Los Angeles College women’s badminton team won a South Coast Conference championship with a sweep of Pasadena City College. Each year ended with their only loss to San Diego City College in the SoCal Regional Finals.
The Huskies swept the SCC individual and doubles teams finals both years advancing three singles players and two doubles teams to the state playoffs. It is another record to add to the books, history repeating itself.
If this story continues as is did a year after 2008, ELAC will lose the SCC team title next year to Pasadena. “Next year will be a rebuilding season because we will lose our top players to graduation,” Qui Nguy, nine-year ELAC badminton head coach, said.
After two years, the ELAC sophomores end their community college badminton career with a two-year team record of 25-2. They were members of last years team that eclipsed Pasadena’s 41 consecutive SCC win streak and they helped the Huskies build an 18-match regular-season win streak. Next years sophomores will put that regular season win streak on the line in their 2015 season opener against Pasadena.
This year ELAC won its second consecutive SCC title after sharing it last year with Pasadena City College. En route to their undefeated regular season. ELAC won all matches against El Camino College and El Camino College Compton Center for the seventh consecutive year.
“Our success this season comes from our coaches training and our dedication,” Khanh Dinh, ELAC’s No. 1 singles player on the team, said. One of the most important things the coaches taught was teamwork according to Dinh. “Teamwork is a (tool) they will use in life,” Lena Zeng, assistant ELAC badminton coach, said.
ELAC hosted the SoCal Regional Final with San Diego winning handily, 17-4. As a result, The Knights advanced to their fifth title-match appearance during San Diego Head Coach Son Nguyen’s eight years of coaching. San Diego lost to defending champion in the De Anza College, 19-2, in the dual team title match.
“East LA College was a tough team to play and their players fought for every point. It was tied 3-3 after the (first round of) singles play,” Nguyen said.
The match was decided after three matches of doubles play. San Diego built a 8-3 lead and never looked back. “Their power is in their doubles teams and we could not overcome that,” Nguy said.
Nguyen said that he wishes for more non-conference competition, but budget cuts make it difficult for all teams, whether in San Diego or anywhere else in the state. ELAC played its first non-conference game in years, April 25 at home, beating Skyline College of San Bruno, 20-1. ELAC finished the season playing the most matches in the state, 14.
According to Nguy, education is a priority while coaching ELAC badminton teams. “We put education first. Like last year, our sophomores move on to four-year universities such as the UCLA, USC and California State Universities,” Nguy said.
Dinh will attend California State University, Long Beach next fall. “I am excited about Long Beach and my (studies),” Dinh said. Long Beach does not sport a badminton team.” Dinh was a quarterfinalist in the state singles championships and won the SCC individual singles title this year.
De Anza, in their second year of building a dynasty, swept the individual and doubles state championships. Defending singles champion sophomore Pinky Li defeated Jurate Foes of Irvine Valley College in the title match, 21-13, 21-6. The doubles title was and all-De Anza affair. Li and Christina Ja defeated teammates Jessica Dinh and Alice Liu for the doubles title.
ELAC team captain Yuki Tai and teammate Suki Kwan ended their ELAC badminton careers in the state consolation championships second round and quarterfinals, respectively. The ELAC doubles teams of Dinh/Florencia Zhan Wong and Tai/Kwan advanced to the state consolation championship quarterfinals.
“Everyone one on the team put in their top effort all season. Their work paid off for an exceptional year in ELAC badminton history,” Nguy said.