By Tyler Hendrickson, Tyler@GazettesSports.com
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Saturday afternoon’s badminton showdown at Long Beach Poly matched the three-time defending CIF-SS champion Diamond Bar High against a Jackrabbit team making its first appearance in a CIF championship match. The reigning champions were as good as advertised, putting on an impressive performance to take a 16-5 victory. It was the fourth consecutive championship for the Brahmas and their sixth title game appearance in a row.
Diamond Bar head coach Kemp Wells was hoping for a good start from his team, looking to win three of the opening four matches. Instead, the Brahmas took the first eight matches of the day to storm to a commanding lead.
“Rhythm is huge in high school sports, so it helps when you get that,” Wells said of his team’s commanding start. “It’s always nice when players exceed expectations.”
Poly’s first win of the day came in girls singles from Kristine Nguyen, who knocked off Kristine Martinez, 21-7, 21-9.
Nguyen also closed the day with a win, teaming up with mixed doubles partner Vattanak Ry to beat Jasmine Huang and Jonah Perea in three sets. It was the last remaining action of the day, meaning the full attention of the crowd was on this entertaining tussle, won 21-16, 16-21, 21-16 by the Jackrabbits (16-1).
Ry also picked up a singles win, defeating Tim Chiu 12-21, 22-20, 21-11. Moore League singles champion Mary Nguyen won 21-9, 21-10 for the Jackrabbits, and the girls doubles team of Sydney Fernandez and Panhaneath Seng played very well, picking up a 21-19, 21-15 victory in its second match.
“I think they played as well as they could have played today,” Poly head coach Steve Meckna said of his team’s performance. “They raised their game and, in my mind, gave a good account of themselves. Diamond Bar is incredibly good. I enjoyed the chance to play against the very best.”
Diamond Bar sophomore star Vinson Chiu, a Junior Olympic competitor, was an impressive 4-0 across mixed doubles and boys singles. Huang went 2-0 in girls singles and the Brahmas (10-0) swept the four boys doubles matches.
Poly will send Ry, Kristine Nguyen, Mary Nguyen, Eric Lam, Sambo Kim, Eric Lim, Fernandez and Seng to the CIF individual tournament next Thursday and Friday.