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May 6, 2009 > East Bay: hot bed for badminton

East Bay: hot bed for badminton

By Idorenyin Uto-Uko

Who would have guessed that the East Bay is a hot bed for high school badminton? The Mission Vallet (MVAL) and Hayward Area (HAAL) athletic leagues have two of the best badminton leagues in the area. Traditional powerhouse Mt. Eden of the HAAL won 103 straight matches heading into the 2008-09 season. Newark Memorial and Mission San Jose have been at the forefront of MVAL and North Coast Section (NCS) Championships.

Newark Memorial and Mission San Jose have two of the most heated rivalries. Each of the programs has won league and NCS Division I championships the last 15 years. This year's Newark Cougars have their eyes set on another NCS Championship.

"We don't have any big stars. We are very balanced," said Newark Coach Victor Wong. "Everyone has a role within our system and they need to execute their role for us to play well."

Even though Wong claims he doesn't have any big stars, he does have Dennis Dimen and Lien Hoang. Hoang, a senior, won NCS last year and has gone 12-0 overall this season. Dimen won the NCS double championship last year as well, and Wong expects more good things this season.

"Dennis works hard, but Lien is our hardest worker," said Wong. "Lien gets to practice early and stays late."

Newark Memorial has a proud badminton heritage. They won NCS Division I from 1988-98. Hoang's older brother and sister have been a part of the school's rich badminton tradition, and started to come to Newark's practices when she was in the eighth grade.

"One key part of our success is that we have an off season training program that a lot of our athletes participate in," added Wong.

Mission San Jose has also been dominant in the MVAL as well. MSJ won the MVAL and NCS championships five years in a row.

The battle between Newark and Mission San Jose is very heated. Coach Wong, a former Newark player, and his wife each played against the head coach at Mission San Jose when the two were athletes in high school.

The two schools' rivalry will continue when they face off at the MVAL Championships, May 5-7 at Washington High in Fremont. Log onto www.tricityvoice.com/sports to get results the same day as it happens.

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