Villa Park's 14-5 victory over defending champion Alhambra in the Southern Section badminton final Tuesday at the Orange County Badminton Club was exactly what everyone had been expecting--for three years.
The Spartans have been favored to win the title since the program began in the 1998-99 season. This year, five members of the U.S. National Training program played for the Spartans.
"In some ways it's like getting a monkey off your back," co-coach Shelly Smith said. "But the kids worked really hard this year and they deserve it."
It took only 1 1/2 hours for the Spartans' to secure the victory, when Mesinee Mangkalakiri swept Betty Lin in girls' singles, giving top-seeded Villa Park a 10-2 lead. She allowed only one point in two singles matches and with partner Raymond Wong, the Southern Section boys' singles champion, won in mixed doubles, 15-5, 15-3.
Mangkalakiri, who has won six individual titles and lost only one high school match in three years, said the team title was the most meaningful. "If you lose enough, it makes the victory even better," Mangkalakiri said. "We had so many chances before."
Wong and Eric Go, national team members who joined the Spartans this season, made big contributions; they combined for six points in singles and mixed doubles.
Mike Chansawangpuvana, also a national team member, was academically ineligible for most of the season but joined the team in time for the playoffs and along with Jerry Bai, swept in boys' doubles.