In a whirlwind badminton-filled morning, the defending champions Saipan International School Geckos clung to the championship trophy during the finals of the TakeCare-Public School System Interscholastic Badminton League after shuttling past first-time competitors Agape Christian School Torchbearers last Saturday at the TSL Sports Complex.
At the same time, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School and Tanapag Middle School vied for the bronze medal, with FMS bringing it home.
ACS’ Barbara Wang, May Kim, Joanna Zhang, Joyce Ying, Daniel Yang, Raffy Cai, Daniel Song, and Danny Cheng, challenged a tough SIS team which consisted of Nara Kim, Lina Tsukagoshi, Frank Li, Allen He, Michael Zhou, and Jason Yu.
In the boys doubles, the Torchbearers’ Yang and Cai overpowered the Geckos’ Li and He, winning both matches, 21-20, 21-18.
In the girls singles, Tsukagoshi mercilessly defeated ACS’ Wang, 21-5, 21-5.
In the boys singles, ACS’ Yang salvaged the win against Li in three matches, 21-6, 9-21, 21-18.
In the fourth event which was the girls doubles, SIS’ Tsukagoshi and Kim almost fell to ACS’ Wang and Kim as the Geckos squeezed themselves out of a tough spot thanks to Tsukagoshi’s hard hits, defeating the Torchbearers after three close matches, 21-15, 18-21, 21-20.
For all the marbles in the last event which was the mixed doubles, Tsukagoshi and Li faced off with Yang and Wang for the last time. The first-time ACS players almost successfully staged an upset against defending champions SIS in the last event, but Tsukagoshi carried Li and her team to victory after her hard smacks and strategically placed hits caused ACS some missed hits and mistakes, winning three matches, 21-18, 19-21, 21-18.
The SIS tandem of 12 year-old Tsukagoshi and 14 year-old Li said after the finals that they were both “very nervous,” but that they were “very happy” that they won.
Tsukagoshi added that “it was very close… I almost lost the doubles because I was almost out of energy.” Li recalled “I didn’t expect to make it to the championships last year,” but this year, even though he expected to reach it, he thought they would lose because he made a lot of mistakes.
SIS badminton coach Jeremy West said about his team that “they did really well… It was a lot of fun. Agape is great, really good competition. We just managed to make it in the end but it was back and forth the entire time, so it was a great game.”
ACS indeed gave SIS a run for their money and ACS administrator pastor Kok H. Pang said after the championships that it could have gone to either one of the schools, it’s just that they “missed points… it [could] be either team but they just got it.”
He said the Torchbearers have only been practicing for just a month and that “if [we] have more time, we could be better… Most of our players are equal. Congratulations to [SIS]; we will come back. We shall return… give us more time, we shall see next year.”
The 2022 badminton season returns with the high school division with the Geckos up to defend their title as well.