DEFENDING University Athletic Association of the Philippines Ladies Badminton champion University of the Philippines Lady Shuttlers are ready and eager to defend their crown.
In fact the Lady Shuttlers will be gunning for their fourth consecutive title come the 80th UAAP Season.
Former UAAP Rookie of the Year Lea Inlayo said they are ready, welltrained and perfectly honed in time for their quest for a four-peat.
“Objective po namin na ma-defend po yung title namin at makapag fourpeat [Our objective is to defend our title and get a four-peat]. We trained in Malaysia for one month at the New Vision Badminton Academy (NVBA). Pagbalik po namin dito, training pa rin po kami everyday kahit may pasok na po [When we returned home, we continued our daily training even when we already had classes],” said Inlayo.
NVBA is a world-class badminton training academy established in 2008. Its well-organized training programs—which include long term, short term intensive and exclusive training—have attracted players from all over the world.
National players from the Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Ireland, Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Maldives and other countries regularly come to train in the academy.
The Lady Shuttlers are not taking any chances because of the keen competition in the UAAP. They set a 25-tie winning streak last UAAP season only to have the streak snapped by Ateneo right in the championship round. UP eventually bounced back to win the series 2-1.
The Lady Eagles gave UP all it could handle and even drew first blood in the deciding tie with Bianca Carlos beating Bea Bernardo, 21-16, 21-18, in a battle of former league MVPs in the first singles.
UP rose to the challenge winning the second singles and sweeping the two doubles matches to prevail.
Gelita Castilo beat Cassy Ramos. Poca Alcala and Jessie Francisco subdued Ramos and Trixie Malibiran. Castilo and Inlayo rallied from one set down to overcome the challenge of Geva de Vera and Carlos.
Inlayo said they expect the Lady Eagles to again put up the biggest challenge to UP this season.
“Ateneo pa rin po sa palagay ko kasi po same roster pa rin ang players nila. Alam po namin na pinaghahandaan din nila yung upcoming season namin kagaya din po ng iba pang schools [I think Ateneo will be the biggest threat. They have the same players as last year. We know that Ateneo prepared hard or the coming season just like the other schools],” said Inlayo.
The biggest advantage for UP remains its depth of talent with outstanding players up and down its roster.
Inlayo said their players are equally talented and anybody will be hard-pressed to select the best from among her outstanding teammates. They also have no permanent teamups when they play in pairs.
“Para sa akin po, lahat po magaling ang teammates ko. At pagdating po sa game mismo pinapaikot din naman po yung players sa line up kung sino po ang maglalaro [For me all my teammates are talented. And during games they frequently change the pairs and team-ups of who gets to play with whom],” said Inlayo.
UP has always had a tradition of excellence to uphold in women’s badminton. Their longest win streak is six consecutive titles which they set in 1995 to 2000.
In fact UP even won a doubles crown ruling both men and women’s tournament for four consecutive years in 1997-98, 1998–99, 1999–2000 and Finally 2000–01.
The UP Ladies badminton team will again be favored as the team tobeat come the 80th UAAP Season.
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