by Brent Shaver, IVC Sports Information
San Diego City's women's badminton team was determined not to let it happen again.
The Knights lost in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship match the last two years to De Anza.
In a hard fought match that went down to the final point, San Diego City pulled off a dramatic 11-10 victory to earn the state title on Thursday at Irvine Valley College.
"People were telling us that we couldn't lose to the same team three straight times," said San Diego City coach Son Nguyen. "This was the year where we tried our best to get it back and we did."
It was San Diego City's second straight 11-10 victory. It beat Pasadena City by the same score two weeks ago in the Southern California Regional final.
"That match (with Pasadena City) was tough and we told the girls that it wasn't going to be any easier today," Nguyen said. "De Anza was the defending state champion and always has good players. We had to be ready for a challenge."
San Diego City was making its seventh state championship appearance Nguyen and earned its fifth title.
It came down to the final match of the day.
The No. 1 doubles team of Gina Niph and Cassandra Ka pulled through for the Knights, beating De Anza's top pair of Alice Liu and Megan Hsiao, 17-21, 25-23, 24-26, to clinch the title.
The match between San Diego City and De Anza was tight throughout. It was tied, 3-3, after the first singles round and heading into the final round of doubles, San Diego City led, 9-8, on the scoreboard.
But De Anza's No. 2 team Helen Fu and Jennifer Chan defeated San Diego's No. 2 duo of Thao Le and Shessira Paredes, 21-15, 11-21, 21-18, to put De Anza in front, 10-9.
All eyes then turned to the battle on the No. 1 doubles court.
San Diego City's Niph and Ka led, 17-13, in the third game only to see Liu and Hsiao rally to tie it at 17-17.
It was back and forth from there with ties at 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24.
Knotted at 24-24, San Diego City's Niph and Ka won the final two points on De Anza shots into the net to end it.
"It was point by point there and at times I didn't think we were going to win," Nguyen said. "Plus we had to beat Alice (Liu), who is so good and has so much experience. I think she is the best player here at state.
"But Gina and Cassandra continued to stay aggressive. They never gave up."
Niph and Ka also won their other doubles match and Ka won both of her singles matches on the day at the No. 3 position as did Paredes at No. 4 singles for the Knights.
San Diego City won seven of the 12 singles matches, including an important one early.
Le, San Diego City's top singles player, defeated Hsiao, 21-13, 15-21, 24-22, in the opening round.
De Anza got two wins from Chan at No. 6 singles.
San Diego City finished its team season with a record of 8-0. De Anza fell to 8-2 overall.
"I have to give a lot of credit to De Anza," Nguyen said. "They are a very good team and it was just a great match today that could have gone either way.
"I thought all of our girls played really, really well. They were nervous at first, but they pulled it off in the end."
San Diego City def. De Anza, 11-10
Round 1 Singles
M1: Thao Le (SDC) def. Megan Hsiao (DA), 21-13, 15-21, 24-22
M2: Alice Lu (DA) def. Gina Niph (SDC), 22-20, 21-9
M3: Cassandra Ka (SDC) def. Aileen Ngo (DA), 25-23, 21-5
M4: Shessira Paredes (SDC) def. Helen Fu (DA), 21-14, 21-19
M5: Jennifer Chan (DA) def. Trinh Lang (DA), 21-18, 21-11
M6: Anh Pham (DA) def. Margaret Do (SDC), 21-15, 7-21, 21-19
Round 2 Doubles
M7: Niph/Ka (SDC) def. Fu/Chan (DA), 21-12, 21-9
M8: Liu/Hsiao (DA) def. Le/Paredes (SDC), 21-11, 21-9
M9: Ngo/Julia Malakiman (DA) def. Lang/Do (SDC), 21-13, 21-17
Round 3 Singles
M10: Liu (DA) def. Le (SDC), 21-5, 21-8
M11: Niph (SDC) def. Hsiao (DA), 21-18, 21-11
M12: Ka (SDC) def. Fu (DA), 21-13, 21-4
M13: Paredes (SDC) def. Ngo (DA), 21-10, 21-8
M14: Lang (SDC) def. Pham (DA), 21-17, 21-11
M15: Chan (DA) def. Do (SDC), 16-21, 21-16, 21-11
Round 4 Doubles
M16: Niph/Ka (SDC) def. Liu/Hsiao (DA), 17-21, 25-23, 20-24
M17: Fu/Chan (DA) def. Le/Paredes (SDC), 21-15, 11-21, 21-18