Men's Singles: 2012 Osaka International Challenge

Men's Singles: 2012 Osaka International Challenge

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2013 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold

So I had returned from Brazil and the next tournament was already selected, Macau Open GPG would be the next and likely last trip for the year. Sujay wanted to play doubles together so we were going to do that, last minute he wasn't sure if he would be able to attend though. Through all the chaos and uncertainty he ended up being able to go but in the intermediate stage I had invited somebody else to accompany me in order to keep the hotel cost down. So this meant that we would be sharing a room and Sujay would be on his own. The day came and it was going to be a long journey but one that I have flown at least 12+ times already. Flying Calgary to Hong Kong and then would have to catch the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. All in all it was only about 18 hours of traveling which wasn't too bad. This time I would have some wonderful travel company so that was something new minus traveling with Jason in the summer.

The flight to Hong Kong was rather smooth until we approached Hong Kong and were put into a holding pattern due to weather. Eventually we landed and couldn't cut it any closer with just making in time to get our luggage onto the ferry. Once the time came we boarded the high speed ferry which zipped over the darkened bay on route to Macau. Like a scene out of a movie the Las Vegas of Asia grew from a single point of light into a multidimensional city with flashing lights and bright buildings. The waterfront view was amazing and at the same time a welcoming sight that we were finally at our destination. The tournament representative picked us up and drove us to the tournament venue for some odd reason but it was nice to check out the stadium where I would be competing. It was well put together but preparations were not finished at that point. After a short discussion they took us to our hotel, the hotel was quite grand. Nothing compared to the giant casino hotels mind you but still impressive in its own regards. Sujay got in the following morning and we arranged to go have a practice session on the main courts of the hall.

Under the bridge to the Macau ferry terminal
View from the hotel room
After a solid practice session things were looking good, had another day to kill before I would have to play my match against my Malaysian opponent in the main draw. But first before that would happen there was a big event to attend to. The opening ceremony and dinner for the 2013 Macau Open Grand Prig Gold. It was being held at the MGM Grand casino in one of the ball rooms, all the players were in attendance along with some special guests. We boarded the bus and drove off to the MGM where we were greeted with a gigantic ballroom with tables upon tables upon tables. The dinner itself was a 10 course affair. The food just kept on coming as delicious as each dish was evoking unique tastes and building upon the last. The highlight of the night for me at least was the fact that Lee Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat were in attendance, while they were not playing in the tournament they were there for publicity reasons. I was fortunate enough to get a picture with each of them and exchange a few words when they each asked where Trinidad and Tobago was and other things. It was a legitimate fan girl moment if anything describes it, of course I didn't show it on the outside but on the inside I was happy and was a dream to meet them. Dinner came to an end and we retreated back to our hotels in order to prepare for the start of the tournament the following day.

First round matches came along and I was up against Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin of Malaysia, it was going to be a tough one. I went in there and did my thing playing to my abilities but in the end he was simply a caliber above me and nothing really threatened him. It was a big sign that I needed to change a lot in order to threaten and compete with the big boys. In the past two tournaments (Sao Paolo International and this Macau GPG) I was knocked out by players who were in the top 50 in the world. The thing is that when playing them I couldn't put as much pressure on them as they could on me and when I was able to put pressure on them I couldn't compound it and finish the points. The experience overall was a good one to see what I was lacking. Me and Sujay also played doubles together and had to qualify for the tournament as we didn't have a world ranking. We played against a pair from Hong Kong and for our first time playing together things turned out pretty well actually. Although we lost the match it was a fun time and we may play together in the future who knows.

After the tournament was done there was some time to sight see around Macau. The day after me and Sujay were knocked out of singles we went to one of the stadiums that was built for the Asian games when it was held in Macau. It was massive just beyond the size of anything in Calgary or to stadiums in North America with the exception of some of the Olympic stadiums. That was a good session and got to see the Malaysian team along with Lee Chong Wei practice. 

After that it was time to go sight see, first up on the list were the ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral which proved rather elusive for us to find. After thinking that we were on the right path and following signs we ended up at a fort overlooking the city. The view was amazing and the fact that it was already night meant that the city was already lit up and the hustle of thousands of people was in full swing. So after taking some pictures from up there we ended up spotting the ruins in the distance all lit up and not too far from where we were. The hard part was finding a route to get there through the winding and narrow streets. We went one way but it ended up leading us right in a circle so we tried the “back way” which with all the luck led us right to the ruins. From the ruins it led us back to Seanado square which is a giant shopping and open area in the heart of Macau. This being November meant that yes there were already Christmas decorations set up and the place was feeling and looking like Christmas.

The following day we had to leave Macau back to Hong Kong to spend the night there and then catch our flight back to Calgary the following day. So morning came we did our final preparations and ate the last meal in Macau not to mention all had a farewell drink in the hotel lounge before leaving to the ferry terminal. Boarded the ferry and set off on the voyage back but there was some rough waters and a little bit of delays. We arrived and headed off to the airport hotel just for convenience sake so that we wouldn't have to travel early the next day to catch our flight. Once checked in and all fueled up the trek down to the harbor to see the lights started. It didn't take long and was a nice bus ride there. Thankfully it wasn't too cold outside but still warranted needing a light jacket, compared to Canada where there was snow on the ground. The harbor lights were great as always and drew in a huge crowd not to one’s surprise. After spending some time there and taking in the sights we walked around a bit and enjoyed the sights then proceeded to catch our bus back to the hotel for the night. Once back the rest of the night consisted of me finishing off school assignments as it would be my final semester and I had already taken time off the month before to go to Brazil for a tournament.

The day of departure came quick and once again we were in the airport catching our flight. After checking in the usual activities occurred and headed off to the lounge to relax and eat. Jivanya hadn't spent much time in the lounges at airports that are available for the elite travelers so this was a fun experience for her and she took full advantage of it enjoying all the amenities available. We stayed in the lounge the whole time and then only headed out to the gate a little before boarding checking through a few shops before that. The flight heading back to Canada was rather full and while heading to Hong Kong we had a row of 3 seats all to ourselves this time somebody else was also in the row with us. After boarding the flight I pretty much passed out only waking up to eat for the first half of the flight, while watching movies for the second half.

Overall it was a learning experience, playing players in the top 50 makes me realize how big of a gap there is. Even playing players in the top 100 or 200 the difference in their skill and strategic play is very noticeable. Macau would be my last international for the year but I didn't know it at the time. I was going to try and fit one more into the schedule and that would have been the Puerto Rico international but stupid me I didn't sign up and it ended up being a great tournament to attend points wise. With that being said this was my last semester of university I had finished all my core courses and was just taking options to finish off my degree. Heading back to Canada the end of November from Asia meant that finals were coming up soon and I would need to study for those as well as finish projects that I had missed and assignments that were due. I would be looking forward to graduating and finally being done with school to pursue work and badminton as full time now. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Badminton Interview

Here is the video of a recent interview that was done about me and my Olympic dreams as an international badminton player and as a coach. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Reporters website:

Friday, February 21, 2014

2013 Brazil international challenge

Summer saw me play quite a few international tournaments bringing the total for the year up to 5. For august and September though I didn't play any just kept training hard and working on what I needed to. Then October rolled around and that saw me entered into the Brazil international challenge in Sao Paulo. I was pretty excited to head down south for the tournament as it was a while since I went to south America. The trip was once again in the middle of my school semester. This was however my last semester and I was in the process of completing my final 4 classes all of which were senior level (1 300 level, 2 400 level, and 1 500 level) options. So once again I would be missing about a week of school in the pursuit of badminton. So I booked my flights and told my professors I'd be gone, they were all very understanding and wishing me the best of luck. Told my group members that I would be gone those weeks and they said we would figure things out which I felt bad about because the group would end up doing a little more work in my absence.

The time came to head down to Brazil and that morning it had yet to set in that I would be flying all the way down to South America. The year had already been so eventful in terms of countries visited that to travel again was and is just a normal part of life right now. I boarded the flight to Toronto and finally when I got onto the plane in Toronto did I get my first tingle of excitement that soon id be in another country after a 11 hour flight. Everything finally sunk in when I arrived in Sao Paulo and was being driven from the airport to the hotel. That same surreal feeling of just 15 hours ago I was in Calgary and now I'm on the opposite side of the earth in the southern hemisphere. I and my friend Howard Shu of the USA were sharing a hotel for the tournament. Another friend Sujay Karve of USA was also there and staying at a hostel. There were many friends that I had playing this tournament as well I made a lot of new ones too.

Our pad for the week

All the beds in Brazil are super small
So upon getting there me and Sujay went to the tournament hall to get in some practice, Howard would be arriving the following day. The hall wasn't bad, classic stadium look. This time though it was located in a club called Club Athlético Paulistano which is the most expensive and exclusive private club in Sao Paulo. The Glencoe club where I train in Calgary is nothing compared to this place in Brazil. We got in a good hit and some singles games as well as played some doubles with other players. That was the moment me and Sujay said that if we attend tournaments together we will play doubles as a partnership for more matches but also to see what we can do. The tournament didn't start for another day so the following day went back to the hall to practice yet again this time had some matches with players from chili and the Belgium seeded player. They were all really nice and got in a good amount of practice that I felt good.

Tournament Hall
Matches underway
So the tournament day rolled around and started with qualification, thankfully my world ranking was high enough that I didn't have to qualify. Sujay on the other hand wasn't so lucky and had to qualify and unfortunately lost his first match. My turn came and I had to play one of the junior players. For some reason I was a little nervous during the match. I lost the first game 18-21 after being down a huge amount from making a lot of unforced errors early in the game. But come the 2nd game I felt more comfortable and figured out how to play. The score was still really close at me winning 23-21. Then came the third game and that's where I just ran away with it. I had a big lead and he made a brief comeback but I felt a lot better playing at that time and closed it out 21-18. I also had the help of Matthew Forgety who coached me during the 2nd and part of the 3rd game as well, he helped to calm me and to focus. So I had won my 1st round at the tournament and with that came a nice set of world ranking points too. My next round wouldn't be an easy one and consisted of the 1st seed Sattawat Pongnairat of the USA. 

That night we went exploring a little bit walking out to the main Avenue and browsing around a mall there to see what they had. The location was nice and got to see some cool things. There was a gigantic radio tower which was covered with lights and could be seen miles away, luckily it was super close to where we were walking and got to check it out along with some interesting graffiti that was painted on an underpass.

This place was packed to eat at
Some of the tons of graffiti around the city
Some of the tons of graffiti around the city
Antenna tower lit up
It felt great to win a match at a tournament again since the last one I had won was back in Tahiti. The next morning rolled around and I played my match against Sattawat, which was a tough one. He was hands down more powerful than me and more explosive, I fought hard and was able to keep up and put him under pressure but couldn't finish the rallies so that was my ultimate downfall. It was great to play him and overall I was happy with the experience, he beat me 21-7, 21-7. So I had been knocked out if the tournament and had just that day and the following day before flying back to Canada and school which I had once again taken time off for.

After my match I went exploring and ventured over to a large park in the city, it was a wonderful location with museums and lots of flora/fauna around. Some monuments were present and the walk over was a nice one although at times the weather was not looking the most pleasant it luckily didn't rain on me while I was out. After exploring went to my favorite sandwich shop and grabbed lunch. The street that our hotel was on consisted of the ritzy shopping area which had all the expensive boutiques around so there was always people walking the street shopping, not to mention a great amount of eye candy haha. 
Awesome huge monument

Awesome Fountain 

View of the city from the park
So that night I and Sujay decided to go out for a night on the town because I left the following day, and that's where the real adventure starts. We started by going down their main Avenue and were looking for a bar or club to go out to and celebrate. We found nothing there and we were about to give up then came across a Starbucks and decided to go in and ask somebody if they knew a place. The barista there told us about some places and one of the names of the club was "Gloria" that's the 1st hint, turns out that was a gay club and we got the hell out of there as quick as we could. Down the street from that was an actual club with great music and a fun environment so we spent the night there partying with the locals. Made some friends with the few girls that spoke a large amount of English and had a fun night overall. We finished partying around 5am and made our way back to the hotel.

The actual club that we went to which was awesome
This was my final day in Sao Paulo and my flight back to Canada and Calgary would depart at 7pm that night. So I got up around 10 and finished packing what little things needed to be, checked out and put my bags in storage as my ride to the airport wasn't till 3pm. So I walked around and had some lunch, did some shopping and then finally Sujay woke up (he was staying at a different hotel) so we met up and grabbed a late lunch. Over lunch we talked about another tournament for the year and started looking into planning for Macau Open grand prix gold tournament in November. I got dropped off at the airport and then had some time to kill in the lounge. My trip to Sao Paulo had come to an end and I was satisfied with the experience winning a match then played 1st seed.

Heading home would be a long flight but an upgrade to executive class would make things more bearable. After the long ordeal I arrived back in Calgary and had to finish off some school work before returning to class Monday morning. Overall it was worth the trip down south and I can't wait to return to Brazil again in the future. 

Panorama of the lake and the city in the background, beautiful place

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2013 Canada Open Grand Prix

Following the US Open we flew over to Vancouver, Canada for the 2013 Canada Open, this would be my 3rd Canada Open as I skipped one year for a reason I cannot remember. But this time with the company of my fellow Trinidad player it would be the biggest contingency of Trinidad tournament 2. Since we would be in Vancouver for a while we decided to rent a condo and share with some friends from Edmonton that were coming.down for the tournament as well. We would arrive 2 days before the rest of them so have us some time to settle in.

Upon arrival to Vancouver we made our way over to the condo.which was quite the walk with luggage and badminton bags in the hot sun. Being in Richmond we got.our fair share of looks from people. The condo was pretty big, 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. It would be housing 5 of us in total most of the time (7 for 1 night and 6 for the last night). The only downside was that it was quite the walking.distance into Richmond proper and to the Olympic oval where the tournament was being held. At least it was warm and didn't rain while we were there.

Own bed/room, not to shabby

So the 1st task upon arrival was to get some food and stuff from the supermarket so we could cook meals at the condo. Upon completion of that we had a little bit of time to kill before heading out that night to have a hit with some of my friends from Richmond. That made for some decent warm up practice and.getting use to how the shuttles fly in Vancouver as it's different than where I train in Calgary. So we did that and played with my friends group at one of the local clubs. The Olympic oval wouldn't be set up for the tournament for another 2 days so we were unable to practice there. The night wasn't bad, met some new people and got some good practice in. Then came the long walk back to the condo. It wasn't terrible and if you walked decently fast would only take 15-20 minutes. The next day came and we once again had the condo all to ourselves. The day consisted of.more of the same a little exploring but then practice that night again. The following day the other 3 people would arrive and the condo would be packed.

Richmond Olympic Oval

The next day came and the others arrived, that night we went down to the oval and we're able to get some practice on the courts as they were just setting them up at that time. There was still another day until the tournament was to start. So the following day we got to practice two times, once in the morning and then again that night. The night session team Japan was there practicing and had almost all the courts but they were kind enough to let us use one. The tournament day had rolled around and in the morning it started with qualification events. I was fortunate enough to not have to qualify for this tournament and was in the main draw for singles, doubles and mixed matches. My partner from Trinidad wasn't as lucky and had to qualify for his singles. He played one of the guys from my friends group and was unable to win so was knocked out of the singles events.

Practice Session
The evening came and 1st round main draw matches rolled around. I was playing Toby Ng of Canada in the singles and it wasn't pretty or as close as my match the week before at US Open. I was able to put some pressure on him and run him around but all in all just unable to keep the pressure and win the points. Toby is a fantastic player who while primarily a mixed specialist can adapt to the other games very well. It was a good experience as always, but just kept showing me that I am not up to those players level. Doubles saw me play Toby again and his partner Jacky Ruan who came to Canada from China. That match can only be summed up by the statement "complete gong show". I am by no means a doubles player. Provincially in Alberta I can hold my own and make semifinals in doubles but come internationally that is a completely different story. Mixed.was more of the same and saw me play yet another Canadian pair making all 3 matches I played against Canadian players.

So the tournament had come to an end, another disappointing performance, coming so close at US Open and then shitting the bed to put it eloquently at Canada Open. I was still sticking around for another 4 days to spend with friends and enjoy a little vacation. All this while attending 2 summer courses which I had papers and a presentation to do. So upon the end of my matches I had to start and finish a paper for a 500 level class I was taking as well as write another paper for a 300 level class. Little to say I procrastinated and did them both the day before they were due, emailing them in just before the deadline. Once those were done I could enjoy the rest of my trip relatively stress free.

I have been to Vancouver many times before so have explored a lot of stuff. One of my.favorite places is Stanley park and.the sea walk where it's just peaceful and nice. I ended up heading into downtown Vancouver to meet up and catch up with one of my best friends who I've known since elementary school. Iris and me walked about and had some dessert (yes I do eat junk food). Did a little bit of shopping and then went our separate ways. That night just as with every other night I ended up going to play badminton with my friends who I don't get to see otherwise. So the tournament itself was coming to an end and there was a huge group of players going out clubbing. My roommate invited me to go but last minute I canceled on them because I didn't feel like going out to party I wanted to spend time with my friends and play some badminton. I had already partied a lot for the summer and just wasn't in the mood. To say the least she was super pissed and I had 1 more day there she didn't speak to me at all for canceling on her. To this day (over 6 months later as I'm writing this) she hasn't spoken to me because of that.

"Free Willy" the 1st thing that comes to mind

Such a peaceful and beautiful place to walk/run

Yum dessert with Iris

Olympic Monument 

My time in Vancouver had come to an end and the summer tour had finished. All in all it was a great experience with some close matches and lessons learned on court. I would return to training soon and do what I could to improve the weak areas of my game. Then would start planning out the end of the year tournaments that I wanted to attend. Flying home felt nice, I was gone for 2 and a half weeks at that point. The day after I arrived home though I would step back into summer classes. So my summer was am eventful one, playing 3 tournaments (be them relatively local) as well as taking a full spring.and summer course load because I wanted to graduate by the end of 2013. All that I had left for courses was 10 options since I did all my core requirements. At this point I was right on track and.would finish off the year taking a block week course and then my final 3 classes during the fall semester to finish off my degree requirements by December. *spoiler* I did it and graduated with my degrees.