In leading up to the official start of the 2018-19 athletics campaign at Irvine Valley, which starts on Aug. 25 with the IVC men's soccer team at Yavapai in Arizona, the Laser athletic department is counting down the top 10 IVC sports stories from the 2017-18 school year.
The No. 7 story on the list was a special year turned in by the women's badminton team during the spring. The squad won the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference title with an 8-1 record and played Pasadena City tough in the regional final before losing, 15-6. Michelle Chen went on to finish as the runner-up in singles at the State Championships.
Irvine Valley's women's badminton team clinched the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference title with a 18-3 win over San Diego City at home in late April.
The win lifted Irvine Valley's record to 8-1 in conference.
The Lasers bounced back after dropping their first match of the season two days earlier at Grossmont.
Tu won, 21-14, 21-14, and 21-6, 21-13. Mei won 21-4, 21-17 and then picked up a victory by default and Ajmera came out on top, 21-10, 21-6, and then won by default.
Lo and Wang each won both of their matches by default. IVC only had to play two matches in doubles and got a 21-12, 21-13 victory from Tu and Mei at the No. 2 spot.
San Diego City came out on top at No. 1 doubles. IVC picked up three other doubles wins by default.
The win qualified Irvine Valley for the regional final where it played Pasadena City tough before falling, 15-6.
In the conference finals, Irvine Valley had five players finish in the top eight in singles and three doubles teams place in the final six in doubles to move on to the CCCAA State Championships individual tournament May 11-12 at San Diego City College.
The IVC doubles team of freshman Michelle Chen and Tu was the runner-up in the event, falling to Grossmont's Yukari Naono and Michiho Kobayashi in the final.
Chen then shined individually at the state event. She reached the singles final.
Chen won four straight matches, including beating Pasadena City's top player in three sets in the semifinals, before losing to tourney favorite and defending state champion Yukari Naono of Grossmont in the final.
Naono came out on top, 21-16, 21-18, in a hard-fought final. Naono became just the third player in the sport's history to win back-to-back singles and doubles championships on Saturday at San Diego City College.
Irvine Valley's Thuy Hoang was one of those players, winning titles in 2010 and 2011.
After taking just 12 minutes to win her semifinal over Fresno City's Soua Kong, 21-6, 21-4, Naono had a tougher time against IVC's Chen.
Chen outlasted Pasadena City's Xiaoming Yao in the other semifinal, 21-14, 10-21, 21-16.
Naono swept Chen in the finals, but it was close throughout.
Chen led early, 6-5, in the first set and trailed just, 12-11, midway through the first set.
Two drop-shot winners and an overhead smash gave Naono a 15-11 advantage on her way to a 1-0 sets lead.
In the second set, Naono used a back-to-the-net, no-look backhand winner for a 7-1 lead.
Chen didn't quit and used several smashes to cut it to 11-6. Naono had two backhand saves, the second for a point.
Again Chen rallied as she went on a 6-1 run to cut it to 19-18.
But Naono prevailed, scoring the next two points to wrap up the singles crown.
The duo lost in the opening round of the main draw, received a bye in the first round of the consolation draw and then won two straight matches. Olsen and Li lost in the consolation final to a team from Skyline.