For the last two months, students from across the Northern Marianas Islands have been competing in the TakeCare Interscholastic Badminton League at the TSL Sports Complex – the same where the impending Northern Marianas 2022 Pacific Mini Games will take place from 17-25 June 2022.
A total of 17 teams took part in the inaugural competition, with 10 teams in the middle school division and 7 in the high school division, throughout January and February, culminating with the finals in mid-March.
Ultimately, it was the teams from Saipan International School (nicknamed ‘The Geckos’) who swept both the high school and middle school titles, defeating the top seeded teams (Marianas High School ‘The Dolphins’ and Hopwood Middle School) in the finals.
HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION – FINAL
In the high school match, the Geckos surprised the Dolphins, 3-2, by winning the girls doubles, girls singles, and mixed doubles:
• Lina Tsukagoshi and Kaitlyn Chavez (Geckos) took care of business in the girls doubles by beating Seiyul Hong and Arisa Custodio (Dolphins), 21-19, 18-21, 21-18
• In the girls singles, Chavez shook off fatigue from playing girls doubles and soccer even before that by topping Hong, 21-18, 21-13.
• SIS then clinched the championship after Chavez teamed up with Matthew Berline in the mixed doubles and defeated Custodio and Ian Lubao, 21-13, 21-18.
• The two wins posted by the Dolphins against the Geckos were courtesy of Lubao and Paulo Quidato, who beat Berline and Andy Kim in the boys doubles, 21-12, 21-15.
• Quidato then locked horns with Kim in the boys singles with the latter prevailing, 21-15, 20-21, 21-9.
MIDDLE SCHOOL DIVISION – FINAL
It was a similar tight score line in the middle school’s final too:
• John Riley and John Peter Quidato (Hopwood) drew first blood after sweeping Frank Li and Jacky Lui (SIS), 11- 4, 11-7, in the boys doubles.
• Luckily, Tsukagoshi, doing double duty in her true age category, and Julie Chavez (SIS) leveled the match at 1-1 following a hard-earned 11-1, 2-11, 11-8 win in the girls doubles against Teresa Ahn and Shemaria Hicaro (Hopwood).
• Tsukagoshi then saw action in the girls singles next and showed no signs of slowing down in beating Ahn, 11-9, 11-9.
• SIS then rendered the mixed doubles a no-bearing contest when Lui upended Tyrone Rio-Magnipon (Hopwood) in the boys singles, 11-5, 11-4, to win the middle school finals outright.
• In the dead mixed doubles, Hopwood 1 salvaged a 7-11, 11-3, 11-4 victory when Ahn and Riley won over Chavez and Li.
“We practiced consistently and I limited my players to the minimum so they can enjoy the game. Also, me being a badminton player myself, I used my skills in teaching my players”
“This win is for our school, SIS. I also would like to extend our thanks to the Northern Marianas Badminton Association…as well as [Public School System Athletics Program director] Nick Gross for putting such an amazing tournament, the first-ever inter-school badminton tournament”, said SIS High and Middle school coach, Fred Guintu.
Meanwhile, NMBA president Merlie Tolentino expressed her thanks to all leaders, sponsors and players, reiterating the importance of the interscholastic league in talent identification and development and in the continued growth of badminton in Northern Marianas.