Sefric Veloria made a spectacular debut in the C division of the TakeCare Badminton Open 2021 after winning the men’s singles and men’s doubles titles over the weekend at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The 29-year-old Saipan Ice and Water Co. employee didn’t drop a set in the men’s singles and won the championship following a 21-14, 21-18 victory over Dez Antonio.
The Laguna, Philippines native then teamed up with Antonio in the men’s doubles and also didn’t drop a set until the championship round. In the finals, the men’s singles powerhouses struggled in the first set before overwhelming the pair of Leonard Manuel and Noel Waitwat, 17-21, 21-12, 21-17.
Veloria attributed his multiple championship runs in the C division to practice sessions with CNMI national players and A division mainstays Andreau Galvez and Lance Gallardo. Galvez also was the men’s singles A champion of the same tournament.
“Before the tournament we always have training. That gave me a lot of skills and I used those skills during the games. I also always played against higher-ranked players to adopt some of their techniques,” he said.
Veloria also admitted that of the two championships he won, the hardest to get was the men’s doubles because he and Antonio had to dig themselves out of a first set hole.
“It was intensely played so after the championship shot we shouted in relief because facing Leonard [Manuel] and Noel [Waitwat] wasn’t easy.”
Relatively new to badminton on the island, Veloria actually fell in love with the sport when he was just 16 years old.
“I’ve been playing since grade school up to college days, but I stopped for more than nine years. Then I resumed playing again this year.”
Yoko Borja duplicated Veloria’s multiple championships in the women’s singles and women’s doubles divisions.
In the women’s singles, Borja outlasted Northern Marianas Badminton Association president Merlie Tolentino in the finals, 20-21, 21-5, 21-9, to take home the championship. Borja advanced to the championship round after a 20-7, 20-10 win over Lani Santos. Tolentino made it into the finals following a 21-15, 21-18 victory over Gladys Dacumos.
In the women’s doubles, Borja teamed up with Hiroko Tajima to upend Tolentino and Santos, 21-16, 21-9. Borja and Tajima advanced to the finals after beating Lala Augustino, 21-13, 21-12, while Tolentino and Santos dropped, Sophia Quintos and Gigi Zapanta, 21-19, 15-21, 21-17, to reach the championship round.
Tajima and Antonio also went home with two championships in the C division after the duo teamed up to win the mixed doubles. Tajima and Antonio met Veloria and Jadel Ignacio in the finals and nailed the win with a 20-21, 21-14, 21-19 win.
About 70 players competed in the TakeCare Insurance Co., Inc.-sponsored tournament. Results of the junior tournament will be published in tomorrow’s issue of the Saipan Tribune.