Fifty-six year-old Hannai Choi won her rematch against 21-year-old Angie Ito, prevailing in two sets in their women's singles A title duel in the IT&E Singles & Mixed Doubles Badminton Tournament 2012 last Saturday at the NMBA Gym at the TSL Sports Complex in Gualo Rai.
Choi capitalized on Ito's sluggish start to draw first blood, 21-7, and then came from two points down in the second set, 21-19, for the sweep and a successful title defense in the centerpiece singles event for female players. Choi also defeated Ito in straight sets in last year's finale, 21-12, 22-20, and last weekend's victory was the former's third in a row against the latter after winning the women's B singles championship, 21-12, 21-14, in the 2010 edition of the IT&E tournament.
The finalists were given only a few minutes before starting their title match and Ito still showed some rust and trailed early at the break, 11-4. Ito continued to struggle in the last part of the first game and Choi wrapped up the opener after the former's strong return went out of the right sideline.
Ito put on a good showing in the second game, which was a seesaw battle. Ito, who gained points off good shuttlecock placement near the net, then managed to take a 17-15 lead before Choi made a rally. The Korean player was all over the court in the latter part of the second game and completed the sweep with a drop shot.
Choi got a free pass to the finals after a victory via forfeiture against Malou Malasarte in the semifinals. Ito booked the second finals ticket, following a 21-15, 21-13 triumph over Lani Bartolome in the other semis pairing. Malasarte went on to win third place after slipping past Bartolome in the consolation game, 21-15, 18-21, 21-16.
Other women's singles champions in the IT&E competition were Roma Barlao and Toshiko Obata.
Barlao took the women's C singles crown against Midori Obi. The opening game of the finale was played in extended minutes with Barlao prevailing, 25-23, but failed to end the game early when Obi recovered in the second game, 21-18. Then in the deciding third game, Barlao regained her bearings for a 21-16 triumph.
Claiming the women's C singles title was a big victory for Barlao, as she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Kim Boranah last year. This season, Barlao won her semis match over Jane Tupas, 21-16, 13-21, 22-20 to advance against Obi, who eliminated Irish Pagarao, 21-9, 21-6. Pagarao saved third place after Tupas withdrew from the third place match due to injury.
In the women's C singles finale, Obata swept Boranah, 21-12, 21-15. Obata moved into the finals after booting out Loyda Ito,21-18, 21-15, while Boranah took the long way to the championship round after surviving Cris Obaldo in three sets, 21-18, 15-21, 21-17. In the battle for third place, Ito won easily after a no-show from Obaldo.
Meanwhile, winners in the men's singles and mixed doubles A will be published in Saipan Tribune's Thursday edition.