After an off year in 2022, the Pasadena City College women’s badminton program was determined to get back into the winner’s circle. The Lancers’ 13-8 victory over San Diego Mesa on Monday closed out a perfect 10-0 trip to win the 2023 South Coast Conference team championship.
The win at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium gave PCC and head coach Jen Ho their sixth conference title in her seven complete years directing the team. It was also the first since 2019 as the 2020 season ended early and the 2021 season did not take place thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancers took second place last year.
It’s the 16th SCC title for the Lancers since the sport was added to the mix in 2000.
PCC (10-2 overall) needed to beat Mesa (8-3, 8-2), the conference’s second place team, in order to clinch the title. PCC scored its decisive 11th point when #6 singles player My Linh Ly defeated Mesa’s #6 Sophia Walton, 22-20, 22-11 to end the second round of singles.
Five of the 12 singles matches went three sets and the Lancers won despite #1 player Rhea Zou and #2 Cindy Zhao losing all four of their contests. Picking up the slack were #3 Nikki Ching, #4 Sophie Chao, #5 Basil Kintanar and #6 Ly, who scored eight team points.
Ching won a key #3 matchup against Ariana Huerta, 21-17, 20-22, 21-17 while Ching also went the distance to beat Huerta, 14-21, 21-16, 21-13. Ly also came up big in rallying to beat Mesa’s #5 Evelyn Dominguez, 19-21, 21-9, 21-6.
In doubles, the #1 duo of Zou-Zhao beat the Olympians #2 pair of Huerta and Sophia Walton, 21-15, 21-10, Ching-Chao downed that same pair, 21-16, 21-14, and Kintanar-Ly scored a #3 doubles victory over Dominguez and Alxa Izazaga-Salas, 21-6, 21-9.
“Our depth in the middle and lower ladder made the difference today,” Ho said. “Winning the conference title was all about getting the commitment, the drive, and the passion out of our players. I’m grateful that we have a group that was determined to win. When these matches are going three sets, the difference often is does that player want it more than the opponent. I’m so proud of all the ladies.”
Mesa’s #1 Erica Garcia Badarraco, the defending SCC individual champion, and #2 Megan Nguyen made it tough for PCC in winning all four of their singles matches and both #1 doubles games. Badarraco edged Zou, 13-21, 21-15, 21-11, and lost a tough one to Nguyen, 21-16, 18-21, 21-18, but Ho was happy with her efforts.
“Rhea did really well all conference season and she has made great improvement to maintain as a top player on our ladder,” Ho said. “Basil and My Linh have been the players that have made the biggest leap in their level of play. Basil has come a long way since she started playing a few years ago here and My Linh was new to the sport and picked up the game as fast as I’ve seen anyone as far as going from beginner to competitive in less than a year.”
The Lancers advance to the CCCAA State Team Championship to be played v. Coast Conference North champion De Anza College on Thursday, May 11 at San Diego City College. It will be the Lancers fifth state final, capturing the CCCAA championships in 2017 and 2018.
PCC will play in the SCC Individual Tournament to be held Friday, April 28 at El Camino College. The tourney determines the seedings for the South for the state individual tournament on May 12-13, also at SDCC.
It’s V for victory for the Lancers in winning the ’23 SCC Team Championship