Youth served in TakeCare Badminton Open

Posted on Oct 22 2021

Junior mixed doubles champions Kaya Braxton, left, and Gregory Ngotel during the awards ceremony of TakeCare Badminton Open 2021 last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium conference room. (Contributed Photo)

The future of badminton in the Commonwealth is secure as several junior players shone during the TakeCare Badminton Open 2021 held over the past several weeks at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

In the mixed doubles, Kaya Braxton teamed up with Gregory Ngotel to beat Kiesha De Guzman and Marlon Bautista Jr., 21-20, 21-16. It was sort of revenge for Braxton and Ngotel as they earlier lost to the same pair in the semifinals, 9-11, 9-11. Relegated to the loser’s bracket, the eventual champions bounced back and punched their finals ticket with a 11-6, 10-11, 11-10 win over Prince Calvo and Angel Reyes.

Braxton said it was an unbelievable feeling winning the mixed doubles after losing in the semifinals.

“I felt glad and happy and I thought we wouldn`t win, but actually it came true. My dream now is to become a famous badminton player,” she said.

The 11-year-old Grace Christian Academy student said she had a perfect doubles partner in Ngotel.

“He is a very nice person. He was the person that helped me score a lot. I was really glad that I had a partner like him,” said Braxton, who began playing the sport three years ago when she was 8 years old.

Aside from badminton, Braxton also lists swimming and kendo as her favorite sports. She, however, admits that badminton is really growing on her.

“It has many people and it’s more fun than playing at my house. Badminton is fun to play and getting awards is a great bonus,” she added.

In the boys doubles, Bautista partnered with Kyle Andre Manuel in defeating Ngotel and Peter John White, 21-10, 21-14, in the finals.

Angieleysha Punzalan and Angel Joyce Reyes then took home the girls doubles after upending Mikyla Cunanan and Riesha De Guzman in the championship, 21-20, 21-14.

Kyle Salcedo earlier won the championship of the boys singles after beating Bautista, 21-13, 18-21, 11-4, in the finals.

Tournament director and CNMI national player Janelle Pangilinan gave kudos to all who took part in the TakeCare Badminton Open 2021 and also gave the winners a much-deserved pat in the back.

“I would like to congratulate all the players who participated in this tournament and all the winners who have pushed themselves to reach their success,” she said.

Pangilinan added that the tournament served as a good training ground for aspirants for the national team that will suit up for Team CNMI in the Northern Marianas Pacific Games 2022.

“In preparation for the Mini Games this tournament not only showed us each and everyone’s skill individually but also showed how committed they are in playing the sport. Choosing the Top 6 women and Top 6 men for the CNMI National Team needs a great deal of commitment,” she said.

In all, about 70 players competed in the TakeCare Insurance Co., Inc.-sponsored tournament.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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