By Robert Lewis, CCCSIA
The South Coast Conference has never won a team state crown in badminton, but Saturday it was all-SCC at the CCCAA State Badminton Individual Championships. Pasadena City College's Rebecca Tzou completed a perfect season at 33-0 to win the state singles crown while East Los Angeles College's doubles pair of Jean Buenaflor and Serena Lieu captured the Huskies' first-ever state title. Fittingly the conference hosted the tournament at PCC's Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
The SCC swept all the big awards, including the consolation singles title in Buenaflor and the consolation doubles medal for Pasadena's pair of Eugenia Mendez and Ana Espinoza.
In the singles final, Tzou rallied to defeat Irvine Valley's Cora Tanuwidjaja, 18-21, 21-10, 21-15. Tzou trailed 11-8 at the break in the final set, and was behind as late as 14-12. At that point, Tzou took over the match with a 9-1 rally that clinched the match.
"My strategy was to cut off her drops," Tzou said. "It benefited me to have a longer match. After I lost the first game, I knew I would need to push her and get her tired. That's where my fitness came in. My coach had us run two to three miles during the week at practices and really helped my strength and endurance. I knew that she can use brute force so I wouldn't let her clear her smashes. It was exciting to win in front of my team and home fans."
As advertised, the semi between Tzou and Irvine Valley's Jurate Foes, the two state runner-ups of 2015 and '14, went the distance with Tzou changing her tactics after losing the opening set. Tzou went to a more aggressive style and used a variety of hard smashes and net volleys to beat the more experienced Foes, 17-21, 21-11, 21-11.
Tzou opened 13-5 advantages in each of the last two sets. Tanuwidjaja pulled out a marathon over Skyline's Fiona Lai, 21-14, 13-21, 21-19, in the other semifinal.
In the doubles final, ELAC's Buenaflor and Lieu rallied from a set down to defeat Fresno City's Lucy Lor and Panhia Vang, 14-21, 21-11, 21-16.
Huskies' head coach Qui Nguy talked about the pair's road to victory.
"Jean and Serena complemented each other well," Nguy said. "To win this tournament, we had to use different strategies depending on our opponents. We did more smashes in the quarters, and then we went to drops more in the semis. In the finals, it really was about what team made the least mistakes. The Fresno pair made more unforced errors than us in the final set, and that was a difference."
Buenaflor-Lieu knocked off Irvine Valley's top pair of Tanuwidjaja and Tracey Nie, 24-22, 21-13. An injury to Foes, playing with partner Peihong Jiang, allowed Vang-Lor to move on to the finals after Vang-Lor led 21-13 through one set and 5-1 in the second.
Tzou is the first PCC singles winner since Angie Ortiz in 2012. It follow Tzou's state doubles title (with teammate Sandra Maw) from her freshman year.
STATE INDIVIDUALS, Friday
Rebekah Leslie (Grossmont) def. Leslie Lam (Fresno), 21-19, 21-18
Jing Mi (Grossmont) def. Diana Resendiz (Pasadena), 21-11, 21-9
Mai Troung (SD Mesa) def. Jean Buenaflor (East LA), 21-13, 21-7
Ana Espinoza (Pasadena) def. Wenting Liang (Fresno), 21-7, 21-13
Melody Zhou (Fresno) def. Jennifer Delgado (Pasadena), 21-17, 21-6
Elita Murtanu (De Anza) def. Polly Huynh (SD Mesa), 21-7, 21-16
Thao Le (SD City) def. Megan Hsiao (De Anza), 21-17, 22-20
Tran Pham (Grossmont) def. Serena Lieu (East LA), 14-21, 21-17, 21-19
Rebecca Tzou (Pasadena) def. Leslie, 21-8, 21-11
Panhia Vang (Fresno) def. Mi, 21-16, 21-18
Lucy Lor (Fresno) def. Truong, 21-12, 21-8
Jurate Foes (Irvine Valley) def. Espinoza, 21-14, 21-11
Cora Tanuwidjaja (Irvine Valley) def. Zhou, 21-7, 21-12
Murtanu def. Sandra Maw (Pasadena), 11-21, 21-15, 21-18
Le def. Eugenia Mendez (Pasadena), 17-21, 21-7, 21-14
Fiona Lai (Skyline) def. Pham, 21-9, 21-10
Tzou def. Vang, 21-11, 21-15
Foes def. Lor, 21-15, 21-17
Tanuwidjaja def. Murtanu, 21-11, 21-13
Lai def. Le, 21-19, 21-15
Play-in: Mendez def. Hsaio, 21-19, 21-14
Lam def. Resendiz, 21-4, 21-9
Buenaflor def. Liang, 9-21, 21-18, 21-12
Mendez def. Lieu, 21-17, 21-19
Huynh def. Delgado, 21-6, 21-11
Rebecca Tzou (Pasadena) def. Jurate Foes (Irvine Valley), 17-21, 21-11, 21-11
Cora Tanuwidjaja (Irvine Valley) def. Fiona Lai (Skyline), 21-14, 13-21, 21-19
Tzou def. Tanuwidjaja, 18-21, 21-10, 21-15
Eugenia Mendez (Pasadena) def. Polly Huynh (San Diego Mesa), 21-11, 21-9
Jean Buenaflor (East Los Angeles) def. Leslie Lam (Fresno), 24-22, 21-16
Buenaflor def. Mendez, 21-19, 21-11
Play-in: Carla Montanes-Rachel Lum (Skyline) def. Ma-Shao (Irvine Valley), 21-11, 21-9
Lieu-Buenaflor (East LA) def. Montanes-Lum (Skyline), 21-10, 21-11
Lai-Vivi Tran (Skyline) def. Saki Kaneko-Pham (Grossmont), 21-3, 21-17
Hsiao-Murtanu (De Anza) def. Espinoza-Mendez (Pasadena), 21-17, 21-13
Tanuwidjaja-Tracey Nie (Irvine Valley) def. Natsuki Hoshiko-Jordan Alvira (El Camino), 21-5, 21-8
Foes-Peihong Jiang (Irvine Valley) def. Yuyu Hsuan-Tiffany Liao (De Anza), 21-15, 21-12
Mi-Leslie (Grossmont) def. Resendiz-Delgado (Pasadena), 21-9, 21-3
Zhou-Liang (Fresno) by walkover Tzou-Maw (Pasadena) [injury]
Vang-Lor (Fresno) def. Olga Pardo-Jamia Smith (ECC Compton), 21-7, 21-8
Vang-Lor def. Mi-Leslie, 21-19, 21-19
Foes-Jiang def. Zhou-Liang, 21-10, 21-17
Tanuwidjaja-Nie def. Hsiao-Murtanu, 21-8, 21-13
Lieu-Buenaflor def. Lai-Tran, 21-10, 21-18
Resendiz-Delgado def. Pardo-Smith, 21-7, 21-5
Espinoza-Mendez def. Hoshiko-Alvira, 21-11, 21-10
Kaneko-Pham def. Ma-Shao, 16-21, 22-20, 21-10
Hsuan-Liao by walkover over Tzou-Maw (injury)
Serena Lieu-Jean Buenaflor (East Los Angeles) def. Cora Tanuwidjaja-Tracey Nie (Irvine Valley), 24-22, 21-13
Panhia Vang-Lucy Lor (Fresno) def. Jurate Foes-Peihong Jiang (Irvine Valley), 21-13, 5-1 (retired)
Lieu-Buenaflor def. Vang-Lor, 14-21, 21-11, 21-16
Yuyu Hsuan Liu-PanYue Liao (De Anza) def. Diana Resendiz-Jennifer Delgado (Pasadena), 21-13, 21-13
Ana Espinoza-Eugenia Mendez (Pasadena) def. Saki Kaneko-Tran Pham (Grossmont), 17-21, 21-15, 21-9
Espinoza-Mendez def. Hsuan-Liao, 21-17, 21-12