It is not unusual in collegiate sports that two teammates in high school end up being in the same team again once they enter college. An example would be the case of blue chip rookies, Iyah Sevilla and Nicole Albo, formerly of PWU, now members of the DLSU Women’s Badminton Team.
Sevilla and Albo share numerous similarities. Both of them have a parent who is active in badminton and that they are both only sixteen years old. Not only are they keeping up with the frenetic pace of the UAAP, but both of them are also adjusting to the stress brought upon by college life. They have been part of the national team for their age group for three years now. Most of the players they admire are foreigners. The major difference of Sevilla and Albo, however, is that the former started playing Badminton at the age of six, while the latter learned the sport at twelve years old.
When DLSU tried to recruit both of them, it was an easy decision for the PWU alumnae, even if other UAAP schools sent them feelers. Albo shares, “Dream school ko po yung La Salle, and nirecruit din nila ako so pumayag talaga ako.” Albo adds that she is enjoying her stay in DLSU with the treatment of rookies being one of the biggest factors. “Parang sa una pa lang kasi, welcome na welcome yung mga rookies sa kanila.” Likewise for Sevilla, studying in the Taft-based university isn’t only good for her Badminton career, but also her education. “Siyempre kasi pag sinabi mo DLSU, may name at quality education. Diba yun naman talaga ang hinahanap ng mga tao sa school? My parents wanted me to go to DLSU pero choice ko rin yun.”
At a very young age, both players have had a lot to handle. Sevilla notes that studying in DLSU is convenient for them because the base of the national team is in Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall. Being part of the national team and the varsity squad entails a lot of sacrifice. “Everyday training. Morning and afternoon. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in Rizal Memorial and Tuesday and Thursday in DLSU”, says Albo. Sevilla agrees, exclaiming that being a student-athlete of DLSU and a national team player is stressful. However, DLSU Head Coach Owen Lopez believes his rookies are handling things quite well. Lopez shares, “Yung kagandahan sa kanila kahit yung mga rookies ay kaya nila ihandle ang situation pag nasa loob ng court. So yun ang kagandahan sa kanila especially now na first year lang sila.”
The DLSU Women’s Badminton Team is currently second in the standings in this season’s UAAP tournament. While Sevilla and Albo are experiencing rookie jitters, both of them have held their own for DLSU. The rookies believe that singles matches are their forte with Sevilla putting in strong performances against AdU and UST, while Albo is yet to lose in a one-on-one bout. One of the things both rookies needed to adjust to coming into the UAAP was its team format. Sevilla explains, “Kasi pag team competition, iba yung pressure dahil sayo nakasalalay ang team eh.”
There are still two more ties to negotiate before the post-season playoffs. “Makapasok sa top four. Parang step-by-step”, asserts Albo. Furthermore, Albo feels that despite the pressure, the UAAP has been a wonderful experience for her so far. Sevilla has the same feelings like her long-time teammate. Sevilla concludes, “Kase yung last two games na yun against UE and FEU. Eh yung FEU yan ang parang tumalo sa La Salle last year so talaga yung drive namin to win nandun.”
From PWU to DLSU while representing the Philippines, it’s been an eventful journey so far for these two young athletes. It is beyond doubt that they would want to add a UAAP championship during their rookie year in their list of achievements.
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