My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

Friday, July 28, 2017

2016 Brazil Grand Prix Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil


So Aruba was last week and now after a quick layover in Calgary, just enough time to do laundry and repack, I was off to Brazil. This was an exciting trip because although I have been to Brazil before this time it would be to a city that I haven’t gone and there was a major tourist attraction there, Iguacu Falls. The city is borders both Paraguay and Argentina but this waterfall is located on the Brazil/Argentina boarder and is massive so that would definitely be something that I would have to check out while there can’t pass up that opportunity.  But before any of that could happen I had to get there which required a flight to Chicago and then onwards the long flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil and finally a domestic flight to Foz Do Iguacu. The flights themselves weren’t bad, the flight from Chicago to Sao Paulo was a long one but nothing I haven’t encountered before.  Matt had arrived a day before me so he rented a car and when I arrived into the small airport he was there to meet me and we went off to our hotel for the night.

Matt booked us a hotel very close to the venue, it was about 2 blocks away so perfect to walk to the venue and not have to worry about catching transportation. This was my first time playing in this city but Matt had played this tournament before in the past and was very familiar with the city. The tournament was a very small one especially for a grand prix level event, the men’s singles was a 32 size draw and doubles was a 16 size at that. There were quite a few Europeans that came over but not many people from the Pan Am zone. It is true that it was right after the Olympics and most countries/players really didn’t have the money to spend on travel. This made it the perfect time to try and qualify for worlds and even better time to get a head start at the tournaments where people were not attending. At this point I was just thinking about qualifying for doubles with Matt, the idea of trying to qualify for singles hadn’t even crossed my mind yet and wouldn’t for a little while.

Our hotel 2 blocks from the venue

So we had a day before the tournament started to practice and adjust, the venue itself was actually set up very nice. For the location and the rest of the building they did wonders. The courts were great, no blinding light, no terribly drafts, and good lines of sight all around. There were 3 match courts and 2 practice courts, given the size of the tournament it would be more than adequate to run all the matches with no delays. We were able to get in a good amount of practice before the matches commenced the following day with singles in the evening. Matt signed up for singles as well and had drawn a local Brazilian player first round as did I. My player however did not show up for the match so I was granted a walkover, a walkover into round or 16 at a Grand prix level tournament was a lot of singles points to be awarded 2110 to be exact and more if I won the next match. I would have to play Milin Ludik of the Czech Republic the following morning for my shot at a quarterfinal appearance. That did not happen though and I lost to him, it was a fun match and aside from Aruba and Canada Open one of the few times I had a coach behind my court with me.


Singles was done and now it was doubles time, the real reason I had travelled all the way down to South America. We were up against a mixed country pair, how appropriate since we too were a mixed country pair, of Brazil and Paraguay. The player from Brazil was an accomplished player as well the guy from Paraguay was a former Japanese national level (not national team) player and had since moved to work and live in Paraguay but was now playing under their flag.  This was a harder first round than some of the other teams had, a local junior Brazilian pair would have been nice but that’s alright we were up for the challenge. The match started and it wasn’t as shell shocking as the US Open against the other Japanese pair, we were able to have rallies and actually win points. Matt is known for being able to control the net and serve exceptionally well and of course he demonstrated it here but he can also play from the back. Being this was only our second tournament together there was for sure some times of uncertainty with shots and rotation as well as sequences but that was something that we would learn as we went along. We lost the match but weren’t blown out so although a crappy feeling for losing it wasn’t as terrible a feeling as it could have been.

Tournament venue was set up very nice for a South American Grand Prix

So the tournament was over and we had a day left in Brazil before heading home. Me and matt were on the same flight from Rio to Houston but we had a different departure time leaving Foz Do Iguacu. The weather wasn’t the best during the week and had limited moments of sunshine with mostly rain both heavy and light. This did not make the most ideal weather to go see the Iguazu waterfalls and the Itaipu dam (largest hydroelectric dam in the world in power generation). But we caught a break, the Friday it was sunny and the forecast said that the rest of the day would be more of the same. This was the time we took the opportunity and drove out to the falls, it wasn’t that far from the city actually which was surprising. It was located in a sort of national park as you would call it and when we paid to go in we boarded a bus which drove us off to the various stopping points. We were interested in the falls but wanted to do the little trek to them in order to get a better appreciation for them as well as see the scenery. The hike started off with a nice open area before retreating to the side of the cliffs for a more intimate view of all the various waterfalls on route to the large main falls. Because we were on the Brazil side we were seeing the waterfalls located on the Argentina side. Likewise the people on the Argentina side would be seeing the waterfalls on the brail side.

The beginning of the trail
It was simply amazing
Nothing short of breath taking

We snaked our way along the trails, stopping at the various viewing points to catch more glimpses at the power each waterfall held. Finally after some time passed we were at the mouth of the beast, the devils mouth as it was called. There was a catwalk of a bridge leading out over the raging water and up to the edge of one of the falls. We were right in the middle of the beast, getting soaked by all the water blowing in the wind. The people on the Argentina side did not get the same experience as their catwalk was at the very top of the falls, allowing them to see a magnificent top down view but not an inside the area experience. From the Brazil side we were also able to go up to above the falls on a tower to get the same sort of top down view but we would do that after. Standing there and seeing all that water was an eye opener to the true power of Mother Nature and sheer force the water had. For those of you who can conceptualize it, Iguazu falls has a flow of 1,756 meters cubed per second of water flow. Once off the catwalk there was a landing area literally right next to the waterfall where you could stand, the area was a soak zone and oh did I ever get soaked. But you could see just how fast and how much water was coming down, not to mention the sound as well. Standing there it really made you think where is all this water coming from that this much flows through every second of every day every year.

Those are the waterfalls on the Argentina side
Getting closer to the main falls, time to bring out the rain jacket
In the soak zone, it was crazy to see so much water falling down

Upon completing my time in the soak zone we preceded up to the top of the observation tower and got a nice top down view. You could see the whole area from the river before the falls to where it all ended up, truly a breathtaking and amazing sight to see. We then walked a little further up river and viewed how calm the water was, you would never think there was that monstrosity lurking just a few hundred meters downstream. There was some gift shops and food places but that was about it so we took a quick look and then boarded the bus back down to where we had parked. It was still pretty early in the day though and we had one more stop. It was a dam, but not just any dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in South America and let me tell you it is definitely worthy of that title.

View from up top, Argentina is on the other side in the back
River up atop the falls, you would never guess what lies beneath and ahead

We arrived later in the evening but were fortunate as there was 1 more tour bus going out to the dam for the day, of course we jumped on to it and got ready to see what all the fuss was about. Matt had already been there before so he knew what was what but to me it was all brand new. The drive up was interesting, everything was so artificial and the dam actually served as a border between Brazil and Paraguay so on the far side there was border control for those driving the route but we wouldn’t have to worry about that. We stopped at 2 different viewpoints of the dam, the first was a ways away to grasp the size of it from a distance which was actually quite hard to do. You could see busses and trucks driving on the road that up the dam but they looked so tiny in comparison. The second view point was closer and offered a little more context to the scale of this man made giant. Ironic just earlier we viewed the waterfalls which was raw and uncontrolled nature but now we were viewing a manmade structure all about the control of nature. Finally the bus took us along the dam, driving the full distance and that’s when I truly got an appreciation for the size of this thing. To see the pipes and sheer size of everything running up and down let alone the distance that it covered was mind blowing. We then proceeded to drive along the top having a view of both the lake behind and then drop off to the waterway below.

Itaipu Dam, this thing was damn big... ha ha couldn't resist the pun
Driving on the lower level of the dam
Looking up from the lower level

The final stop was towards the back on the lake, there was a restaurant and a whole area purely based and run on tourism as nobody lived back there. There was also a cruise around the lake where a large ferry would take you for a soothing sail around the lake to enjoy the view but it had ended for the evening as we were the last tour. So we walked the little dock and took in the view of a setting sun in South America over a manmade lake teeming with the beauty of nature. Boarding the bus the ride down was peaceful and left one with an overwhelming sense of the sheer size of things. You think you can conceptualize distances, sizes, etc but until you are standing right in front of it and seeing it yourself then your mind doesn’t know what it thinks it actually knows.

Pristine lake that was created when they built the dam and an amazing sunset

So that was the end of Brazil, I would fly out to Rio the next morning on an early flight and then Matt would join me later in the day for the flight from Rio to Houston. Following that I had my final flight onwards to Calgary which at that point I was super happy to get home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in over 2 weeks. But it would not be for long as I would just be home for a few days and then heading back out to Guadalajara, Mexico for the Mexico international series. I was happy with this tournament, some big results in both singles and doubles getting major world ranking points and this was my first thought of hey my singles ranking is going to go up. I still wasn’t thinking about qualifying or trying to qualify for world championships in singles yet though.

Rio 2016 Olympic touch at the dam

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2016 CAREBACO Team and Individual Championships, Aruba

It was time to fly out again, this time I would be gone for almost 4 weeks in a row with a packed tournament schedule. Aruba, Brazil, and Mexico back to back then a week break and off to Columbia. This time I was heading to the Caribbean for the CAREBACO championships which happen every year, last year it was in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and we got a bronze medal in the team championships. This year we would see what we could fight to get. I was also the first seed in the individual BWF singles event.

2016 Trinidad and Tobago Senior CAREBACO team (L to R: Me, Solangel, Leanne, Kerian, Will, missing Alistair)

Flying to Aruba proved a little longer and harder than expected but nothing terrible just an overnight layover. For all the upcoming trips I would be flying through Houston international airport in Texas as it is a united hub for South America and the Caribbean. It was substantially cheaper to book all my flights as round trips than trying to go from one location to the other, weird yes I know. Unfortunately didn’t have status yet so I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the lounges or anything for the next few trips, I was just star alliance silver which doesn’t get the perks of lounge access but got priority check in and boarding. The last time I went to Aruba was when I was very small and we went island hopping one summer with my mom, aunt, and cousins so I didn’t remember it to well from back then.

Who could pass up these beautiful beaches on the island?

Arriving in Aruba was nice, the weather was hot and sun shining bright. It was still summer in Calgary, well ending, but the weather was good there however winter was looming around the corner. Upon arrival I was unfortunately not picked up from the airport which is something I am quiet use to despite submitting my arrival information. After some time and using the wifi I was able to contact somebody from the Trinidad team and the tournament organizers came and took me to the tournament hall where the junior team tournament was happening. I stayed there for a while to support the juniors. The rest of the senior team was to arrive the next day. The venue didn’t look terrible, definitely not the worst place that I have been to before. That night I got a decent rest and the following day me and Rahul (President of the TTBA), Navin (TTBA position), and one of the juniors Renaldo went to have an early morning practice at the hall. It was a good first hit in the venue and something well needed as the Senior Team tournament would start the following day.

The tournament venue, practice day

I headed back to the hotel and rested for the majority of the day, venturing out for food and to explore a bit but didn’t stay out long due to the heat. That night the rest of the team thankfully arrived and we were relieved to see them. Team matches would start the following day and was in the format of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. To win the tie you had to win 3 out of 5 but they would play out the entire tie for completeness sake. There was only 4 countries entered this year; Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Suriname. Every team was strong and it would be a fight right to the end. We played Suriname first and unfortunately lost 1-4. I played singles against Suriname for that tie. While Dom Rep played Barbados and won their tie. Next tie was playing against Dom Rep and we lost 1-4 yet again. This time I played both doubles and mixed doubles having 2 close matches. Suriname played Barbados and won their tie. This meant that playing for first and second place would be Suriname and Dominican Republic. Playing for third and fourth place would be Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. There was only 3 medals; gold, silver, and bronze nothing for fourth place.

Tournament venue during the competition, it was actually a good venue for an island

Game day. It all came down to this tie against Barbados, either we would be going home with a medal or we would be going home empty handed. I played first singles and it was national champion against national champion. I was able to beat the Barbados player but it went 3 games because of my nerves and safe play at times. Next up we won women’s singles with Solangel winning in 2 straight. Then came doubles, if we won this match then we would win the tie and be bronze medalists at CAREBACO. Alistair and Will were able to beat out the other 2 players winning us the tie and taking it home 3-0. That was a good feeling to have gotten a bronze medal at least from the tournament which was a big moment for national pride and made me feel good about being Trinidadian.

2016 CAREBACO Team Event Bronze Medal, award ceremonies
The medals that we got, they are actually pretty cool

That however was not all that took place in Aruba, I was there for just over a week due to the amount of events I was participating in. there was a day where I did have no badminton due to the team tournament finishing and the international starting the following day. What better use of a day than to explore the island or as much as possible and within walking distance of the hotel. There were 2 shopping malls down the road which we checked out earlier in the week to find food but this was the first time that actually spent time walking through them and seeing what was what. There was a dock where the cruise ships came in and then just retail all along the strip since it was a very tourist heavy area. Located there was also a giant “I love Aruba” sigh which of course is the perfect photo opportunity and a must have picture. The walk to the mall/shopping area wasn’t terribly far maybe about 15 minutes but the heat is what was really the killer, it was also deathly dry there so not a good combination. The view however could not be beat, blue clear water just tropical paradise status, and was always a welcome sight. Not to mention very tempting to just jump in and go for a swim.

Climbing up on the Aruba sign
Another Aruba sign and of course I needed to climb it again

Talking about going for a swim and the ocean this was yet another trip where I was not fortunate enough to actually go into the water. Despite our hotel literally being across the street from the beach the most that I went into the water was up to my knees for a picture…but it was a good picture and the water was so warm. We did however spend some time hanging out on the beach both during the day and at night. During the night there was a food truck which came out and the food that they served was delicious. What better thing to do than grab some food and walk down to the beach. Listen to the calming of the sea and stare into the abyss of space seeing the sky lit up with the stars of our galaxy…alright if you couldn’t tell I enjoy space a lot.

Couldn't leave without getting a picture in that perfect looking water

We spent a lot of nights eating at this food truck, it got lots of business
With the team tournament over it was time for the senior BWF individual event to start as well as there was a junior international event happening too. The draws were late to be posted and we only found out the draw 2 days before the tournament was to start which is almost unheard of for international standards. This international was only a future series which is the lowest level offering no prize money, and very limited points. I had a decent draw playing against a Suriname player first round and then that took me into quarterfinals where I played a Jamaican player and unfortunately lost. This loss would cause me to leave Aruba the next day and focus on my tournament in Brazil which was a much higher level and offered a lot more points. Because of the tournament in Brazil I did not play men’s doubles or mixed doubles due to the time constraints of getting to Brazil on time. It would also be the next step in my new partnership with Matt for world championships qualifications so was important to get to and adjust to the venue. All that was left was to leave Aruba and fly back to Calgary for believe it or not a 5 hour layover before flying straight to Brazil. I know what you are thinking that is a major backtrack but it was insanely cheaper (over $1000 cheaper) to do it this way, also I would get a lot of qualifying miles for my United reward status so not a total loss. Just meant that I would be spending a lot of time flying and in airports, something that I have become accustomed to over the past few years. So now onto Foz Du Iguassu, Brazil for the 2016 Brazil Grand Prix.

2016 CAREBACO team event men's singles, me vs. Barbados

Sunday, April 23, 2017

2016 US Open Grand Prix Gold

The US open had been moved back to LA since its move to New York for 2 years. Despite the move back it was not given back to OCBC down in Anaheim so this was something new. It was awarded to a facility called the Los Angeles Badminton Club (LABC) which I actually played at once before.  This was good news as I would be staying at Yukos house and it wasn’t a terribly far drive, nothing compared to trying to go from Manhattan Beach to OCBC. This tournament I would be playing all 3 events. Singles, Doubles with Matt Fogarty, and mixed with Yoshi (Yukos daughter). So let’s discuss something first, let’s talk about this doubles partnership.


Earlier in the year the opportunity came up to play with Matt in the attempt to make a run at qualifying for the 2017 world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. This meant that we would be playing tournaments together in order to get the required points and the world ranking needed. The qualification for world championships is May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 so a one year period. The best 10 tournaments in that time count and only 2 teams from the same country are able to qualify. Because we are a split partnership we would count as one team from Trinidad and one team from USA. The US Open would be our first tournament together and first set or ranking/qualification points.


At the time I wasn’t even thinking about qualifying or trying to qualify for singles but that would come into play later on. So that is the new partnership that was formed and that would also lead me to some more travels than I had intended for the year. Canada open passed and then a few days later I was on my flight to LA and to see Yuko again. We got to practice at the tournament hall with Dean and Dean’s partner, also with Tuck and Jenn Yee too. The tournament venue wasn’t terrible it was a darker hall and they had adjusted the lighting to make it more “professional” but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Yuko was the nurse on duty so she would be going up each day which was nice for me as it was at least an hour to an hour and a half drive each way.

2016 US Open GPG venue at LABC

Before the tournament started though it was time to celebrate 4th of July American style, aka go down to the beach and suntan. Of course everyone was out on the beach partying and drinking it up so it was definitely a great time and so relaxing as well. That evening we went out to the tournament hall to practice again and while driving back we could see the 4th of July fireworks being set off all over the place. It is about a 40 minute to 1 hour+ drive depending on traffic but with fireworks going off it was enjoyable. The next day would be the start of the tournament and I would need to get a good night’s rest for my singles match.

Manhattan Beach on 4th of July
Soaking up some sun

First day of play, singles. It started off just like that and I was playing Ruban of Guatemala, I have never played him before and he is about the 2nd best Guatemalan after Kevin Cordon. This match was something else, I did not play smart and did not have my focus where it should have been. Because of this it left me shell shocked and scrambling around to try and figure out what to do. Ultimately that did not end well and it was a loss in singles for me. So my day was over, we stuck around and watched some other matches that were happening before me and Yuko did the long drive back to Manhattan Beach.

During Mens Singles

Mixed doubles was up first with me and Yoshi playing against Nyl and Britney from Canada. That was a tough match from the start but we didn’t do badly actually and it was a lot of fun. We ended up being on the streaming court as well so that was a bonus. Afterwards I had to play doubles and that would be the debut of me and Matt playing together. We had a decent first round against Dean (his former partner of many years) and a younger university student Ali. This was a good warm up match and ultimately we ended up winning, it was a little bit of a bittersweet win though because I like Dean and we are great friends off the court but I know this one hurt him a little. Every match from there on out I play for Dean because it truly is because of him and Yuko that I am having this opportunity available to me and I don’t think I can ever repay them.

Not gonna lie, fanboyed a little and finally got my picture with Peter Gade

This is where things would get once again interesting. We had now progressed to round of 16 at a grand prix gold tournament. The first time I could say I have been that far, even if it is just winning one round. Now we were in for a real shock, we would play a pair from Japan. The match started and I have never felt this lost before ever. No matter what we did, no matter how good a shot, no matter what everything came back with interest. I could hit a net kill straight down at the service line and somehow they would get it back with a crosscourt tight winner. It was brutal, of course they are good and it would be easy but I have never felt that lost, even when I have played top 20 singles players in the world. But the simple fact of the matter was we got absolutely destroyed on the TV/betting court. This was the beginning of a partnership though which would take us too many countries and hopefully many more wins.


For the time being my experience at the US Open was done and I would spend a few more days in LA with Yuko and her family before heading back home. The next few days involved doing some simple things, badminton and checking out Venice beach of course. We ended up going kayaking in the marina with Dean and one of his friends which was super fun to do. Having some good food and great company is always the best way to spend time. First doubles win of the year under my belt and onto the next tournaments we had planned out. Aruba with Trinidad and Tobago for CAREBACO team and individual championships in August. Brazil Grand Prix in Iguassu Falls beginning of September. Mexico International series in Cancun, and Columbia International series in Nevia both in September. I would definitely be earning my elite status this year.
Some fun out on the water

Can't go to Venice Beach and not see Muscle Beach

2016 Canada Open

Nationals had come and gone and I didn’t play another tournament after that, 2 months later Canada Open rolled around and once again it was in my hometown of Calgary. This is a tournament that I have played multiple times since its inaugural showing in Vancouver back in 2010 at the Richmond Olympic oval. It has a soft spot being in Canada but at the same time being in Calgary where everyone that I know can come watch. Last year I played a player from China and unfortunately didn’t have a great match but this year was up against a Canadian who I knew. I would play against Andy Ko from Edmonton, Alberta which was set to be a good match. Even though we were from the same province and had both been playing for a while in the Provincial circuit we never did play each other in singles until now. I would lie if I said that I wasn’t nervous for the match, I wanted to win and knew that it would be a tough one.

Practice time at the Venue

Match day rolled around and we once again went up to the Winsport facility at Canada Olympic Park (COP) where the arena was set up to host the tournament. I had friends from the USA come to participate this year as well. Yuko and Tuck, Tuck and I would be playing doubles together and he would play mixed with Yuko. We were able to get a good amount of practice in at the venue and as always the place looked great but to play there was sort of a nightmare due to all the distractions visually. None the less it was game day and do or die moment.


I stepped onto the court to play Andy and right away I was feeling nerves come over me, I haven’t experienced this feeling before. Not even when playing in my national championships or the Pan Am Games which was such a huge tournament. But I knew I had to conquer them else it would work against me. The match got under way and I had Ardy as well as Bryan sitting behind my chair, it was reassuring but at the same time nerve racking too. The match unfolded and it was a battle, point by point went by and we were close then Andy took the first game. I fought back and won the second, that meant that it would go to 3. I was feeling confident and playing well and had to lead when we switched sides and all went to hell. Something happened and for whatever reason I didn’t have an answer for his shots I stopped controlling and started reacting which ultimately in the end cost me the match.


I was disappointed, I was devastated, I was done I just didn’t know how to react. Loosing isn’t something that I want to do, it’s something that nobody wants to do. A loss in 3 games that close is just heart wrenching, especially in front of all the kids I coach, all my friends, etc it just broke my heart. I didn’t know how to feel, I felt like a failure like I shouldn’t even be competing. But that was an emotion that I would have to get over and I didn’t let it affect me for long. It is still one of those moments I look back on and have an uneasy feeling about. Andy played great and is a great player, which I would never deny him that. I usually don’t discuss my emotions and the emotional side of badminton but this is one that just got to me, coming of a national championships win to this just hit hard.


That was that though and it was time to move on to doubles. Tuck and I had just played the Manhattan Beach international together back in January and decided to give Canada Open a go. We were up against a Canadian pair of B.R. Sankeeth and Adam Dong which was an incredibly strong pair to play. Despite our best efforts we were beat relatively easy. So Canada open was done for another year, not the best performance or performance that I would have liked.


The following week would be US Open but before that it was time to show Tuck and Yuko around Canada as it was their first come coming to their friendly northern neighbour. On the agenda was showing them around downtown Calgary followed by a day trip out to Banff and Lake Louise. Which despite rainy weather ended up being quite a beautiful and fun time. Dean joined us as well and we headed up to Lake Louise to take a picture with the picturesque backdrop. Despite the rain and overcast the lake came out brilliantly green and just perfect. We walked around there for a bit but it started to rain so we darted into the hotel and hung out for a little whole the downpour passed. As we were driving back to Banff the weather of course cleared up (Calgary/Banff can have all 4 seasons in 1 day) and we headed into the city to walk around. We hung out in Banff for a little while and ate lunch there then it was time to head back to Calgary.
Picture Perfect at Lake Louise. Left to Right; Tuck, Dean, Yuko, Me
The following day we went back to COP and Yuko, Tuck, and Dean wanted to do the bobsled run. In the summer they put the bobsled on tires and will launch it from a little under half way up the track so you get a somewhat experience of what it’s actually like. I have already done it before so I let them go ahead and do it. After that they wanted to do the luge which is essentially a soapbox racer with breaks that you ride down a hill steering around corners and obstacles. Pretty much some of the best fun that you can have and it is awesome going fast. Yuko did it once and was happy enough so I took the rest of her 2 runs down the hill with Dean. Dean likes speed and dam he was ahead of me the whole way aside from one point where I passed him but he overtook me on a turn with only 1 of the 3 wheels touching the ground. That night we played some badminton and then before you know it the week was done and it was time to head to LA. Yuko left first in the night of July 1 and then Tuck the next day. I would leave July 3 in the morning and meet them in LA or well meet Yuko in LA as I would be staying at her place. Just enough time for some Canada Day celebrations and when I arrived in LA it would be 4th of July, something I have seemed to be celebrating more and more over the years.
We were gonna leave tuck behind

Luge at Canada Olympic Park

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Trinidad and Tobago Nationals

The biggest tournament of the year and it wasn’t an international one, it was the Trinidad and Tobago national championships. This would be the 4th time that I had played them and so far I had reached the final 2 of the past 3 times as well as won once the previous year 2015. This year would be slightly more pressure since I won the previous year, not to mention I was in all 3 finals, I would be expected to retain my title and capture another in another event. The last tournament that I played was Manhattan Beach International a few months back in February but it was now April and a while since I had been in that sort of environment. Regardless of that I had been training hard and preparing for this because I knew the second half of 2016 would be when I played the majority of my tournaments.

The photographer really liked to get pictures of me drinking water

Flying down to Trinidad is always straight forward and something that I have been doing for years. I fly united and go through Houston so it’s a full day affair leaving in the morning and arriving in the evening. Usually when traveling to an international I arrive 1-2 days before the tournament but when I play nationals I always try and arrive 4-5 days before so I can adapt and feel really comfortable on court. Although the tournament is held at my home club in Trinidad I don’t get to play on the courts other than the 1 week a year that I play nationals so it is nice to get that extra court time to readjust to the conditions down there. I am spoiled in Canada since we play and train in the perfect conditions which in reality you rarely every find outside at competitions. The previous year in 2015 I wasn’t seeded at all and that had been an issue to people as I was in the finals in 2014 and not seeded in 2015. This year I was 3rd seed despite winning nationals the year before. That definitely raised questions to everybody down there, but in reality it’s whatever to me I don’t really care that much about seeding.

I left Calgary and arrived In Trinidad but that would not be the only trip I was taking this time. After playing nationals in Trinidad I would head out to Atlanta for a little relaxation and mini vacation. I would be spending about 12 days in Trinidad and then another 10 days in Atlanta being gone for almost a month. But back to Trinidad first and it was nice to have the heat hit me when I arrived. Calgary had an abnormally warm winter though without a lot of snow falling but nothing beats a tropical island in the Caribbean. Arriving was nothing new, get to the airport, grab something to eat, wait for my aunt to pick me up and then home we went. The first few days was nothing special I pretty much just played badminton at the CRISA arena in Chaguanas to familiarize myself to the courts and shuttle speed again. I was playing singles, doubles with Jason Ramjass, and mixed doubles with Kerian Quan Chee. My old mixed partner had gotten banned for a year and was unable to play nationals or play period at the time. Practice was done and the tournament was set to start, just 4 nights this year Wednesday through to Saturday night.

Funny faces are what I do best and frequently on court

Singles was up first and I played a slightly older recreational players who played for one of the oil companies, followed by the 2nd round of singles that night where I played fellow club mate Alverio in which we had a fun match. That was the first night of action and there would be many more, not to mention newspaper articles as well. The second night consisted of another round of singles as well as a round of doubles and mixed. I played Sheraz another club mate in singles and then in doubles we had a fairly straightforward match and mixed was a lot closer as all of us on court were pretty similar skill. Day 2 done and was in all 3 semifinals.

More water bottle drinking pictures

So when the 2nd last night rolled around I have to play a player named Will Lee who I had never played before but he traveled with us to CAREBACO last year and we sort of talked then. It was a match that went to 3 as I was actually nervous and played emotional badminton opposed to actual badminton. I was able to pull it off in the 3rd thanks to Kerian and Naim for coaching me through it. That means that I was in the men’s singles final again. Men’s doubles didn’t go our way though and we ended up losing to Anil and Milind a German who married a Trinidadian girl and lives in Trinidad. He also won the other semi-final for men’s singles so I would play him in the finals, also he’s who Kerian and I beat first round in mixed. Mixed doubles saw us make the final as well when we beat Leanna and Jewel to advance. I was only in 2 finals this year, which was alright with me as can’t always get everything that I want.

During singles

Finals night, the night of all nights came around and I would be playing in the singles and mixed. Singles was up first and it would be against Milind Ogale a German citizen who is a resident of Trinidad and Tobago because he married a Trinidad woman. So you can imagine the newspaper headlines on that one, German Vs Canadian comes to mind. The match was pretty straight forward and there were no nerves this time to take it all the way and win my second national title in men’s singles.

Up next were the other matches and then the final match of the night, mixed doubles. Rahul had already won the men’s doubles final and now was going for title #2. Rahul and Stephanie had played together for years and this was the first time me and Kerian have played together despite being from the same club. The match went to 3 and unfortunately I would only be getting one national title this time in the singles.
So a 1st place in singles, 2nd place in mixed doubles, and 3rd place in men’s doubles would be the medal haul for the 2016 nationals.

1st place mens singles, retained my title and 2 time national champion
2nd place in mixed for the 2nd year in a row

3rd place mens doubles

The previous year I flew out the morning right after I won nationals but this time I stayed an extra day. That extra day I celebrated in style a little winning another title we went out for dinner and then afterwards went to a club and lived it up, downside I flew out that next morning so the night was a little short lived. It would not be back home this time though, I would be making a stop over to Atlanta and spend just over a week there. A nice and well deserved vacation after winning nationals.