PCC Women's Badminton Hopeful For Return To Postseason In 2023

The Lancers #1 doubles team of Sophie Chao (left) and Rhea Zou (right) in action during today's opener.
The Lancers #1 doubles team of Sophie Chao (left) and Rhea Zou (right) in action during today's opener.

After a disappointing season last year in missing the team playoffs for the first time since 2014, the Pasadena City College women's badminton team has reloaded its roster and hopes to compete for the South Coast Conference title and beyond in 2023.

The Lancers opened the '23 season on Friday at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium and defeated San Diego City College, 12-9. 

"Last year was tough for us, but it had a lot to do with how the pandemic affected our roster," said PCC head coach Jen Ho. "In 2020, we had a very strong roster and figured we could compete for the state title again. Then the season got shut down and than we lost 2021 as well due to COVID. So this was the first time I could really get back to recruiting kids from local high schools. I know we can be competitive and we have our two strongest players back and some really outstanding freshmen."

Ho coached PCC to back-to-back, CCCAA state team championships in 2017 and 2018.

PCC's #1 singles player this season is Rhea Zou, a freshman from Alhambra High, who swept her opening two matches v. San Diego City's #1 Cecilia Naranjo, 21-16, 21-8, and #2 Angelina Benn, 21-10, 21-12. Zou teamed with freshman Sophie Chao (also from Alhambra) to win in #1 doubles, defeating the Knights #2 duo of Hailey Carr-Francesca Calaman, 21-14, 21-8. 

Returning sophomore and #2 Cindy Zhao lost to Naranjo, 21-17, 17-21, 21-14, but beat Benn, 21-19, 21-16. Letterman Nikki Ching (#3) downed Jess Liang, 21-7, 21-9, and Chao at #4 lost to Carr, 21-13, 21-17, but beat Liang, 21-17, 21-13. Letterman #5 Basil Kintanar won her match #5 Calaman, 21-7, 21-5, and #6 frosh Bingbing Ouyang also defeated Calaman, 21-10, 21-11. 

In one of the more bizarre finishes to a match, the Lancers decided to forfeit one singles and two final round doubles matches due to time management issues as they needed to vacate the gym with a PCC basketball doublehader beginning at 5 p.m.

PCC next plays at San Diego Mesa on Friday, Feb. 24 in a 1 p.m. SCC match.