A perfect end to a perfect year. The De Anza Women's Badminton team has captured its first state championship, besting the defending champs San Diego, 12 to 9, and taking individual and doubles titles as well.
DeAnza, with a 10-0 season, squared off in the state championships Thursday at Pasadena City College against San Diego City College, which had not lost a match since 2011 and has five state championship trophies.
Then, on Saturday, De Anza standout Sheung Wi "Pinky" Li won the individual championship, and the doubles, paired with team-mate Jessica Dinh. In fact, the doubles team final match was an all-De Anza affair, played against team-mates and Katherine Ja and Christine Ja.
“We felt we had a pretty good team coming into the season, but then Pinky fell into our laps right before the start of the year," De Anza head coach Mark Landefeld said in a written statement from the California Community College Athletic Association. The Hong Kong-raised Li is just 17.
"Her skill set and abilities put her above any players we’ve played this season."
Landefeld praised Katherine Ja, the team captain, who had two singles wins and a doubles win with her freshman sister Christine Ja, over San Diego's top pair of Darby Duprat and Thao Nguyen.
“Katherine was our emotional leader all year,” Landefeld said. “She was a multi-sport player who played volleyball and basketball for us, so she understands the team aspect well."
The state championships had another first, the California Community College Association noted in its recap of the event:
In what has to be a first in California Community College athletics, the Ja sisters were joined on the De Anza roster this season by Pearl Gee, a reserve player who is also the two players’ mother.
A toast with mimosas over Mothers Day brunch to you!