By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
AZUSA – Kenneth Hui said he is accustomed to drawing a crowd.
The Keppel High School sophomore and his partner, sophomore Johnny Zeng, needed only to finish off Diamond Bar’s Luke Chiang and Alvin Ma to win a second consecutive CIF-Southern Section Division 1 badminton championship.
Hui hit a drop serve and then returned a Chiang shot just beside Ma to clinch the Aztecs’ 10th CIF-SS title on Saturday at Azusa High.
“I’m kind of used to it now, playing in other tournaments,” he said of his teammates watching the lone match at the time. “It was pretty important.”
The 11-7, 11-5 win by the Aztecs’ No. 2 doubles team over the Brahmas’ No. 1 team gave the Aztecs their 11th point of the match, an 11-7 lead, and was enough to defeat Diamond Bar, 12-9, for a second consecutive title.
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His brother, senior Kevin, who is the Aztecs’ No. 1 singles player, could only watch from the sidelines.
“It took several years off my life,” he said. “That was the most nervous I have been. We could not afford any free points. Any point he made was closer to winning the match.
“Every point he lost was unnerving.”
The Aztecs won all eight of the boys matches and the Brahmas won all eight of the girls matches. That left the competition to the five mixed doubles matches, of which the Aztecs won four.
Keppel, the tournament’s top seed, finished the season 11-0. Diamond Bar, the No. 2 seed, finished 13-1.
Cerritos, the top seed in Division 2, defeated host and No. 3 seed Azusa, 12-9, in the afternoon. The event was considered a CIF-SS non-sanctioned playoff competition because not enough schools in the section participate in the sport.
“I really thought we had it on mixed doubles,” Diamond Bar coach Kemp Wells said. “But when we won one match, that was it. Our minds were somewhere else I guess.
“I wish we had three players as good as they are. Their players are at a different level.”
Keppel won the first four matches of the competition, including three in mixed doubles.
“Definitely the first round made a huge difference,” Kenneth Hui said. “If we had lost, it would have made it a lot harder at the end.
“For us, whoever wins the mixed wins the championship. We lose the mixed, we lose the whole finals.”
The No. 1 team of Kevin Hui and Tracy Tang needed three games to defeat the Brahmas’ No. 1 team of Chiang and Samantha Li. Kenneth Hui and Millie Leung defeated Curtis Li and Joanna Lau, 11-9, 11-1, at No. 2. At No. 3, James Zhou and Cindy Lam defeated Jessica Kwok and Ma. It was all the Aztecs needed.