PREPARED. Letran Badminton prepares to advance on the upcoming rally on NCAA Season 94. Photo by Angela Davocol/The LANCE.
By Carl Argarin
The Letran Shuttlers displayed a great overall performance last season as they ended their campaign with a runner-up finish in the men’s division; losing to rival school San Beda University Red Smashers in the finals, while the women’s division placed fifth overall in the tournament.
However, despite excellent performances for both squads, the Shuttlers from Muralla looks to surpass their achievements last year and go all-out this Season 94.
After failing to defend their title last season, the men’s team seeks for redemption as they look to reclaim their place in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) badminton tournament.
This time though, the team will be parading a squad without aces Nephtali Pineda and Mark Sabarre who both graduated last March.
“It had a huge effect on our team. We lost two of our best singles players, that’s why some of us needs transition from playing
doubles to singles,” overall team captain Melvin Sarao explained, noting the duo’s significance to the team.
Despite the departure of their two veteran players, the team is still expected to perform at a high level with most of their players
stepping-up their games.
“I can say that their games and playing styles have improved,” he said.
Sarao belives that the team will be putting up a better performance this season, as they now added a day to their sessions and
now have the luxury of training in a real badminton court.
“Last year, we spent our trainings in the gymnasium, which was really hard for us because of the setup. [The] flooring and the
lines of the court were inaccurate.
These factors made it hard for us to adjust in a real game,” he said.
“A huge factor is that this year, we were able to add an additional day for our training. This year, we were able to train on a real Badminton court.” Sarao added.
Sarao admits that this season is no walk in the park, but with the mentioned factors in play, the Shuttlers’ skipper vows to give their best as they continue their mission on bringing back the championship in Intramuros.
“It’s going to be a tough ride but we’ll try our best to win back the title. We will focus more and be more aggressive on court,” he said.
The women’s team, meanwhile, placed fifth overall last tourney; falling one game short for the last semifinals slot. It was however, an improvement for the squad as they ended Season 92 at the sixth spot. This season, the team is locked-in on their goal which is to will their way to the final four and bring the glory home to Letran.
With returnees Fionna Emorecha, Ghia Gutierrez, Jehane Galit, Chinnie Castro, Katya Panopio, Mikee Velasco, and Mica
Avelino beefing-up the squad; plus the arrival of two rookies in Jennifer Japson, and Nics Quizon, the team is expected to
make noise in the badminton collegiate scene this season.
“I think we are more than ready this season. Hopefully this time, maka-final four kami kasi I have seen the improvement of
this team,” she added.
The squad looks to better their performance from last year, and Emorecha swears to never forget their obligation to the Colegio as athletes, despite their hectic academic schedules.
“This time, hihigitan pa namin ang performance namin sa court. Despite of our busy schedule, hindi namin makakalimutan yung obligation namin as an athlete and yung ini-aim namin na makapasok sa final four,” she explained.
Emorecha also shared the key adjustments they made; focusing on the players’ mental toughness and physical skills.
“Recently this summer lang, we had major adjustments and may changes ‘din when it comes to training and disciplining the players. We are currently focusing on strengthening the mind and the physical aspect of every player in our team,” she said.
While the road to triumph may be tougher this year, the Lady Shuttlers share one goal in mind --to enter the final four and win the championship for Letran.
“To be in the final four is not just for our dream, but it also for the Letran community,” she added.