Saipan International School swept both the high school and middle school divisions of the TakeCare Interscholastic Badminton League last Saturday at the TSL Sports Complex in Gualo Rai.
What’s most impressive was the Geckos completed the feat after turning back No. 1 seeds Marianas High School 1 in the high school division and Hopwood Middle School 1 in the middle school division.
In the high school match, the Geckos surprised the Dolphins, 3-2, by winning the girls doubles, girls singles, and mixed doubles.
Lina Tsukagoshi and Kaitlyn Chavez took care of business in the girls doubles by beating Seiyul Hong and Arisa Custodio, 21-19, 18-21, 21-
In the girls singles, Chavez shook off fatigue from playing girls doubles and soccer even before that by topping Hong, 21-18, 21-13.
SIS then clinched the championship after Chavez teamed up with Matthew Berline in the mixed doubles and defeated Custodio and Ian Lubao, 21-13, 21-18.
The two wins posted by the Dolphins against the Geckos were courtesy of Lubao and Paulo Quidato, who beat Berline and Andy Kim in the boys doubles, 21-12, 21-15. Quidato then locked horns with Kim in the boys singles with the latter prevailing, 21-15, 20-21, 21-9.
SIS and Hopwood 1 split the first two matches in the middle school finals. John Riley and John Peter Quidato drew first blood after sweeping Frank Li and Jacky Lui, 11- 4, 11-7, in the boys doubles.
Luckily, Tsukagoshi, doing double duty in her true age category, and Julie Chavez leveled the match at 1-1 following a hard-earned 11-1, 2-11, 11-8 win in the girls doubles against Teresa Ahn and Shemaria Hicaro.
Tsukagoshi then saw action in the girls singles next and showed no signs of slowing down in beating Ahn, 11-9, 11-9.
SIS then rendered the mixed doubles a no-bearing contest when Lui upended Tyrone Rio-Magnipon in the boys singles, 11-5, 11-4, to win the middle school finals outright.
In the dead mixed doubles, Hopwood 1 salvaged a 7-11, 11-3, 11-4 victory when Ahn and Riley won over Chavez and Li.
The rest of the SIS middle school team includes Hunter Derocher, Jason Yu Michael Li, Brenden Derocher.
SIS high school and middle school badminton coach Fred Guintu said it was a mix of luck, skill, and hard work that both his Geckos teams somehow took home the twin championships.
“We practiced consistently and I limited my players to the minimum so they can enjoy the game. Also, me being a badminton player myself, I used my skills in teaching my players,” he said.
On notable performances by his players, the SIS mathematics teacher gave kudos to Kim, Berline, Kaitlyn Chavez, and Tsukagoshi for playing their best against the No. 1 seed MHS 2 team. Ditto for his middle school squad who managed to slay a very good Hilitai team.
“This win is for our school, SIS. I also would like to extend our thanks to the Northern Marianas Badminton Association, especially Christy [Villaflor], Janel [Pangilinan], and president Merlie [Tolentino] as well as [Public School System Athletics Program director] Nick Gross for putting such an amazing tourney, the first-ever inter-school badminton tournament,” he said.