Players vigorously swung their rackets in 29 games, sending featherlike shuttlecocks — also known as birdies — flying back and forth over five courts at home in PCC’s Hutto-Patterson Gym, resulting in a decisive season-opening win for the Lancers against the El Camino Warriors, 17-4, on Friday.
All 10 Lancers were in fighting form against the five Warriors players. Six players per team are required in an intercollegiate game; not having the minimum number of players forced the Warriors to forfeit a total of 5 points. The energetic match lasted just over two hours and featured many one-sided wins and harder-fought scores.
In singles, the Lancers’ easy wins were served up by second-year players Xiaoming Yao, 21-1, and Jessica Lee, 21-3. Three new players also turned in notable scores, including Sophia Nguyen, 21-3; Rose Huynh, 21-5; and Huyen Diep, with consecutive 21-10 wins in her only game.
Doubles opened with big back-to-back 21-5 wins by partners Yao and Nguyen. Lee and her new partner, Nicole Ching, were forced into playing a tie-breaking game, achieving a high score of 21-9 in the first round. They also took a 21-16 loss in each round, but rallied to win with close final scores, 21-18 in the first round, and 25-21 in the second. With that, the Warriors’ battle was defeated by spirited Lancer skill.
Before the match, PCC head coach Jennifer Ho watched her team practice singles, doubles, and prepare score sheets.
“I don’t like to lose. Let’s put it that way,” she said with a laugh. “The team bonding is number one for me. It takes a team to win it, and you all need to help each other. I am very proud of them.”
Ho has been on a winning streak since joining the team in 2015, including two consecutive state championships as of 2018. Her two returning players, Yao and Lee, work closely with the new players on technique and personal interaction.
“When I play doubles, I have a partner and we can talk about strategies,” said Yao, an architecture and engineering major. “For singles, I need to go anywhere.”
Lee, a computer science major, likes the competition and camaraderie.
“A sport is not just playing, it’s also meeting people and new experiences,” Lee said. Although the sport is small, it offers an advantage. “When you play badminton, you can’t really play by yourself. So there’s no point unless you make friends.”
Immediately after the match and final team handshake, happy Lancers helped clear equipment from the gym.
“They did pretty good at managing the game,” Ho said. “I’m very, very confident for them in the conference.”
The upcoming match against De Anza College in the Coast Conference is now on the team’s mind.
“We’re going to go back and talk more,” she said.
She will work closely with the new players as they prepare for their first appearance up in Cupertino in two weeks, March 15 to 16.
New Lancer Audrey Chia played a hard-fought tie-break in singles, which led to a 1 point gain by the Warriors. “Half bad, half good,” Chia said of that game. From the coach’s perspective, this is part of the sport.
“I want them to know that they have a chance to lose,” Ho said. “We always have to be consistent … We have to be prepared for everything.”