HomeBlocksFront-GridSMHS Wins CIF Badminton Title

SMHS Wins CIF Badminton Title

By Mitch Lehman
San Marino Tribune

It was a whirlwind playoff week for the San Marino High School badminton team. On Monday, May 8, the team won its first playoff quarterfinal match with a victory over Lakewood by a score of 12-9. On Wednesday, May 10, the Titans defeated Rowland High School in the semifinals by a score of 13-8.
Then on Friday night, May 12, San Marino had gone on to claim the CIF-SS 3rd Level championship, defeating San Gabriel by a final score of 13-8.
Jennifer Ho has been the SMHS head coach since 2020. In order to elevate the Titans’ level of play this season, Ho has entered them in tournaments against stiff competition, which has certainly paid dividends. In fact, tournaments in March and April enabled SMHS to get a glimpse of some teams that they would ultimately face in playoffs (Lakewood and Rowland).
During the regular season, the team struggled to win dual competitions as many matches went three games which ultimately did not end in San Marino’s favor. Not being able to close out games resulted in being tied for fourth place in their Almont League.
Due to statutory reasons requiring that a certain minimum number of teams from each of the seven leagues in the CIF-Southern Section must be placed into Division 1, the SMHS team narrowly missed making the Division 1 cut. Disappointed at not having made Division 1, the team was placed in the next CIF-SS level down – 3rd Level (formerly known as Division 2).
The CIF quarterfinal match against Lakewood was the most difficult of the postseason. SMHS co-captains Emma Lo and Makenna Wong and boys singles No. 1 Wayde Wang’s combined wins contributed eight points to the scoreboard but everything else was up in the air. The No. 2 girls’ doubles team of Katelyn Li and Kelly Trinh and Hailey Ng and Jobee Wong each stepped up to contribute one game win apiece, as did the boys’ doubles team of Brian Chen and Nhat Huynh, who added one win to post three points. Also impressive was sophomore Leo Feng, who first lost a three-game match to Lakewood’s boys’ singles No. 2 player but then rallied to a grueling three-game victory over his top-seeded opponent.
In the semifinal against Rowland High of Rowland Heights, Lo and Wong closed out all their girls’ singles matches with four points and added another four points with their respective mixed doubles partners, Wayde Wang and Nhat Huynh. The three doubles teams of Brian Chen and Nhat Huynh, Katelyn Li and Kelly Trinh and Jenny Zheng and Audrey Chang each contributed one game win apiece. Leo Feng contributed two points by winning over the Rowland High boys’ singles No. 2 and mixed No. 3 with partner Jenny Zheng.
During their regular season meeting, San Marino narrowly defeated San Gabriel, 11-10. However, San Gabriel beat the Titans, 13-8, meaning the CIF-SS finals was for all the marbles. In the first round of mixed doubles play, the Titans posted two points. Lo and Wong split up and each paired up with other partners Jobee Wong and Jenny Zheng to close out all four points in girls’ doubles. The boys’ singles, Wayde Wang and Leo Feng, captured three points. Katelyn Li and Kelly Trinh each played their best singles game ever, defeating San Gabriel’s player and adding one point each. Two-thirds of the way into the dual competition, San Marino had already secured the 11 points to guarantee the match. Boys’ doubles wins by Brian Chen and Nhat Huynh and Sean Trisnadi and Andy Liu added two points.
While the Titans could have gone on to add two more possible wins in the remaining unplayed games, assistant coach Dennis Sheng chose to substitute in other players so that everyone had a chance to experience a CIF Finals match.
This past year, the SMHS badminton program saw plenty of change, according to a team spokesperson. After four years of manually laying tape down on the gym floor to outline the badminton court lines in the small gym, SMHS painted permanent badminton court lines in both gyms over the summer.
Eleven years after its founding, the SMHS badminton team was finally allowed to play in the “big gym” this year, thereby tripling the number of badminton courts. This likely played a role in helping the Titans claim its second CIF-SS title in five years.


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