By Haidee C. Pineda, images by Leonardo A. Reyes
(OCT. 2)— The UP Women’s Badminton Team (UP Lady Shuttlers) was the champion in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 77 Badminton competition held at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall last Sept. 10.
The last time the team won the championship was in 2000 ending the 13-year championship drought.
Moreover, UP’s Jessie Francisco dethroned Ateneo de Manila University’s (Ateneo) Ma. Bianca Carlos who was last season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). The Rookie of the Year award went to Mary Ann Maranon while Coach Malvin Alcala, a former national badminton team coach, bagged the Best Coach award.
At the final competition, the Lady Eagles’ Carlos and Patrisha Edrika Malibiran won the singles matches and defeated UP’s Paola Beatriz Bernardo and Mary Ann Maranon.
UP aggressively bounced back from the game after the two pairs comprising Paola Beatriz Bernardo and Francisco and Marina Caculitan and Mary Ann Maranon, dominated the Women’s doubles matches beating Ateneo pairs Carlos and Dia Nicole Magno and Cassandra Grace Lim and Malibiran. Meanwhile, UP’s Francisco defeated Ateneo’s Jana De Vera in the final singles match.
The UP Lady Shuttlers also completed a streak of nine straight wins this season and had a thrice to beat advantage over the defending champion Ateneo in the finals.
On the team’s winning streak this year, head coach Tosi Alcasid said “Sa tingin ko, ang advantage ng UP ay maganda ang bagong recruits natin ngayon. Karamihan sa mga nanalo, noong high school palang sila (ay nananalo na) sa Palarong Pambansa. Itong 2014 ay nag-aaral ngayon as freshie sa UP.”
Coach Tosi said while the other school teams went to Indonesia and Thailand to train, their team managers, Conrad and Pacita Co of Allied-Victor Badminton Academy, secured the services of a Malaysian training coach, Jeremy Kok.
“Ngayong season, si Coach Malvin ang assigned sa singles game at si Jeremy Kok, pang-doubles para hindi hirap ang mga coaches at para specialized sila,” he added.
Prior to the UAAP season, the team joined three major tournaments namely, the Philippine National Games where UP was the champion in the women’s doubles, the FDG (Frederick D. Go) Cup and the Smart National Open.
The UP Lady Shuttlers presented their trophies to Chancellor Michael L. Tan in a courtesy call at the Office of the Chancellor on Sept. 22.
Also present during the courtesy call were College of Human Kinetics (CHK) dean Prof. Ronualdo U. Dizer and CHK Varsity Sports director Prof. Ariel Juliano.
The UP Women’s Badminton Team previously won six consecutive championships from 1995 to 2000.