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Mika De Guzman enters sophomore year as a vet thanks to Smash stint

The year has been nothing but good so far for young badminton stalwart Mika De Guzman as she made a mark as soon as returning to the courts starting last February with the Second MVP Badminton Cup win.

With that, she was also able to represent the Philippines again in the 31st Southeast Asian Games. This is something the 20-year-old upstart would cherish with the people who have been with her throughout.

“Well, I’m very grateful and honored to represent the country nung SEA Games,” De Guzman shared.

“And I think I wouldn’t have done it without the help of my coaches in Ateneo and, of course, in the national team. I think they’re really part of my whole journey in my badminton career.”

That experience really helped the Second MVP Badminton Cup women’s singles champion grow as an athlete, as she shared, especially since activities were halted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said, “Since I think, nung pandemic, not a lot of teams are training, so I think I’m really grateful po that I was part of the national team that time kasi non-stop pa rin po yung training namin. And without it, hindi pa rin ako lalayo sa skills ko.

“I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons during my tournaments. I learned what to improve on, what skills to improve on and, you know, how to train my mental stability, of course. I think that’s a vital part of being an athlete — you have to be mentally strong,” De Guzman continued.

With that wealth of experience, De Guzman went from the budding rookie to the current captain of the Ateneo women’s badminton team, all while seeking its third-straight UAAP championship. She welcomed such responsibility knowing it will not be a difficult stint for her with a such willing bunch of ladies.

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“We really tried to bond together,” the UAAP Season 82 Rookie of the Year said on how the Blue Eagles prepared for the season. “Kasi it’s really an important role kasi, as you know, … kasi UAAP is a team event po ito. So, I think we really need to be close and improve ourselves together.”

After taking down its first two ties against Adamson University and University of Santo Tomas, De Guzman hopes that the defending back-to-back champions continue their solid form, especially in tougher battles ahead.

“Actually now ang ganda na po ng nilalaro ng lahat and that’s what I’m really hoping to see this season. Nakikita ko naman na lahat po sila nag-eenjoy, so I think I’m happy with that naman po. We’re not really pressuring ourselves to win every game. We just do our best and enjoy the game po.”

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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