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Badminton Cabrillo Lakewood Long Beach Poly Wilson

Long Beach Badminton Preview

Another season of Long Beach Badminton is about to kick off, and there will be many new faces all over the Moore League after a strong class of seniors graduated last spring. 

Cabrillo will look to defend their historic Moore League title last season, but will indeed face some challenges after top singles player Jedrek De Guzman and two of their best girls’ players graduated last year. 

“Defending a championship is gonna be a challenge for us because we lost some of our top players,” said 2023 Moore League Coach of the Year Russian Joe Galima. “But overall I think our boys’ side and some of our younger girls can do a good job helping to lift us.”

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Brian Habacon will return for the Jaguars on the boys singles side after finishing 4th place in Moore League last season, while Galima expects returner Joaquin Orozco to play as a singles starter this season after spending last year in doubles. 

Galima also expects big things from his top boys doubles group of Allen De Dios and Justine Yambao.

“They’ve played together the past two years, so obviously a lot of great chemistry has been built,” said Galima. “I have high expectations from them this season.”

On the girls side, Galima expects Jasmin Ramos to lead the way after scoring 2nd place in Moore League singles last year, while Cyril Dela-Torre is a new face to look out for in girls singles, as Galima believes she has improved the most this offseason. 

At Long Beach Poly, the Jackrabbits will also look to utilize their depth and overall skill level to dethrone Cabrillo as Moore League champions.

“Our strength has always been not having a glaring weakness,” said Poly Coach Steve Meckna. “We are always able to be competitive in singles and doubles for both boys and girls, which makes us hard to beat.”

On the boys side, Poly will be led by senior Nick Jensen in singles and senior Victor Lim in doubles, who Meckna dubs the “strong men” of the team. Junior Josh Chhauy is another player who has developed nicely and will be a key component of Poly’s team after earning a varsity spot last season. Meckna also expects big things from sophomore Danny Lam.

Senior Alana Leuth will lead the Poly girls following her 4th place finish in Moore League girls singles last year, while senior Soki Phay will also be looked to as a leader for the Jackrabbits. 

Junior Nga Pham is another player to keep an eye on, as Meckna dubs her the most improved player on the team this season.

“She is very much a student of the sport,” said Meckna. “She is always watching badminton videos on youtube, and I admire how dedicated she is to learning about the sport and improving her game both on and off the court.”

Despite all the talent they possess, Meckna believes the most important key to winning the Moore League title will be how the Jackrabbits manage their emotions during games. 

“There’s being a good player and then there’s playing well when the stakes are high.” said Meckna. “How our team does this year will come down to how well we handle pressure situations and how we can push ourselves through moments of frustration.”

At Wilson, the Bruins also saw most of their varsity team graduate last year, and will thus face some obstacles as many of their younger players continue to adapt and grow. 

“I have a new group of players to work with who are getting used to the higher pace and physical demand varsity matches typically demand.” said Wilson Coach Adrian Marquez. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but I have a few veterans on our team who are doing their best to help their team be where they need to be.”

The Bruins will be led by senior Abhishek Jain on the boys singles side, who won the Moore League singles title last year. 

“He is hands down the best singles player this league has at this very moment,” said Marquez. “He has gone through an explosive training regimen since the end of CIF regionals last year in May, and I expect a lot from him.”

Senior Susana Martinez will lead the way on the girls doubles side, as Marquez calls her the powerhouse of the women’s squad and “the voice of calm” during intense moments in games. 

New varsity additions Valerie Espinoza and Denise Abon are another team to keep an eye on in girls doubles, as they were successful as partners last season in JV and have built great chemistry coming into this season.

“They are quick, smart, and carry a lot of weight behind their smashes.” said Marquez “I expect to see a lot of great things from them this season.” 

Lakewood will also see a plethora of new faces this season, having added 23 new athletes to their team this season. 

“We have a wonderful cast of returning juniors and just a couple returning seniors.” said Lakewood Coach John Henderson. “I’m expecting that our juniors will continue to develop their skills and compete well in the CIF tournament. I also expect our team to challenge the traditional powerhouses in our league and maybe deliver a few surprises along the way.”

Juniors Jacob Vong and Richi Chhit will return as the leading boys doubles team for the Lancers after finishing 2nd place in Moore League Mixed Doubles last season. They have both been playing at the varsity level since freshman year. 

“I am looking forward to them leading the team by example as our veteran players,” said Lakewood assistant coach Wesley Lum. “I believe they will battle for 1st place in Moore League Boys Doubles and that they have a chance to be top 8 for CIF individuals.” 

It will be a special year for Jacob Vong in particular, as he is a recipient of a distinguished nomination for the Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame for his strong play throughout the past three years, having achieved an 18-2 Mixed Doubles record in Moore League matches. 

Among the 23 new athletes, Lum looks to sophomores Cecilia Fonseca and Giselle Maravilla as the standout rookies. 

“They both like to compete and play with a ton of heart,” said Lum. “I believe they will be important members of our varsity squad.”

Sai Trivedi
Born and raised in Long Beach, Sai Trivedi is a senior at LB Poly High School. His love of sports started when he was seven watching games with his Dad. Sai has dabbled in podcasting and writing about sports and enjoys playing guitar and tennis.