My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Paris 2015

Had to get a shot with the Eiffel Tower
This is a different sort of entry because it is not about a tournament but not about a vacation. It is about a layover on the way to a tournament, a lucky event to say the least. So I was traveling to Mauritius (a country next to Madagascar off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean) for a Tournament and was just so lucky to have an 11 hour layover in Paris, France. As soon as I saw that when booking my eyes lit up, I have never set foot on the European continent before and this was my chance. I would get to see Paris of all places the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and so many other notable and famous monuments. So the time came and I left Calgary heading to Amsterdam first then towards Paris where I would have my time to see the amazing city. I landed in Paris, France around 12:20pm on Tuesday June 9, 2015 and that’s when the adventure and race against time started.

Before landing I had done my research the days prior to flying out as I knew that there was a lot that could go wrong. I could be delayed, transportation times, as well as when I had to be back at the airport to catch my connecting flight to Mauritius. So I planned everything out and ended up taking the bus into the city which would drop me off right in front of the Arc du Triomphe. It only took about 45-50 minutes as there was a bit of midday traffic and one other stop first but that was fine, well within my budgeted time limit. The first thing I saw was the Arc du Triomphe, this has some significance as I am a huge history buff and enjoyed learning all about world war I and II back in high school. So to see the Arc was amazing, just to be in Paris alone didn’t even sink in at all yet. After bumming around there checking out the area and taking pictures of course I made my way to the next landmark. This one was a lot more famous and world renowned when you think of France.

The Eiffel Tower in the flesh…alright in the metal. It was a truly amazing sight to see this tower not because of its height or anything, it’s actually rather small, but because of the fame of it. The tower did not disappoint at all and captivated my gaze the whole time the entire atmosphere of the area. It was so surreal of an experience to be standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, when 12 hours prior I was in Calgary in North America. I took it in but the gravity of where I was never set in even through the whole time and all the sights I saw. I walked right up to the tower and got a close up look. I was doing great for time. So that was 2 big sights down but still a handful more to go. Now came the trek, I had done some walking already but there was more to head over to Notre Dame but see everything else along the way. I walked along the river, La Seine, towards the famous cathedral.

Up close and personal

The river took me past some museums as well as Plaza de la Concorde which connected to the Champs-Elysees and back to the Arc du Triomphe. There was quire the fancy fountain and Egyptian looking structure in the plaza. This was also where the entrance to the Louvre Tuileries started. Walking in it was a huge giant space, an almost garden like area leading up to a palace or in this case museum. I walked across this vast area taking in the statues as well as nature and the sun. Thankfully it was a sunny and warm day as all my plans could have easily been foiled if there was rain. After quite the walk I came up to the Louvre and its famous glass pyramid. The scale of the building caught me off guard and I was enveloped within its walls. I stood and took it in before walking on the outside and back alongside the river. I continued to knock sights off the list and was winding down to the last one. I was doing great for time and not worried as from Notre Dame I could take the train straight to terminal 2 at Charles de la gull airport where I needed to catch my flight.  

The scale of this place blew my mind
Still blowing my mind

Notre Dame Cathedral popped up as I walked to the back of the little island it resides on, I have to say I was a little disappointed from the outside appearance. I don’t really know what I was expecting but I felt a bit of a lackluster experience. Maybe because I had already seen the Eiffel Tower and pretty much everything else is downhill from there. That marked the end of the sightseeing, I had been walking around for a few hours but only walked about 10km in total. I spent time in places to fully take in the atmosphere and gravity of where I was. Not to mention the hour I spent at the Eiffel Tower sitting and watching it as well as having a snack. That meant that all I had left to do was take the train back to the airport and catch my flight to Mauritius for the tournament.

Didn't see Quasimodo though =(

Overall the time spent in Paris was amazing, it was surreal and through the whole time I was there it didn’t hit me where I was. I unfortunately didn’t get to go into any of the monuments, museums, or sights that I went to. The lines were simply too long and would have eaten up all my time. I also just had my cell phone to take pictures with as I opted out of carrying my DSLR with me this trip. One day I know I will return to Paris and France for a lot longer time not just an 11 hour layover. That is when I will do Paris properly and take proper pictures, go into the museums and see them as well as up the Eiffel tower, onto the Arc du Triomphe, and into Notre Dame not to mention visit countless other sites. As I arrived back at the airport and sat at the gate I had a sense of accomplishment, seeing so much in such a short amount of time. I also got to cross Europe off the list of continents that I have been to. That would just leave Africa and Antarctica, one of which I would be visiting after a quick 12 hour flight, but that’s another entry. 

I love flying on big planes, especially business/executive class

Sunday, May 31, 2015

2015 Trinidad and Tobago International

All the participating country flags at the venue
So it has been a while since I have played an international tournament, January 2015 to be exact when I went to China for the China International Challenge. In March I played Trinidad National Championships and won those. The thing is that next year (2016) are the Olympics in Rio which means that there will be Olympic qualifications. For badminton it is a yearlong process running from May 1, 2015 to May 1, 2016. This meant that the 2015 Trinidad and Tobago international would be my first event of the Olympic qualification process.

I have played tournaments before during Olympic qualification in 2011-2012 for London but at that time I was not looking to qualify. This time is different and I am trying to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as impossible of a task as that may be. This meant that starting now every tournament would count towards my world ranking for Olympic qualification. Trinidad started off looking hard with the M&Q report coming out and me being in qualification due to a large amount of high ranked players playing. Luckily for me by the time the draws came out some people had withdrawn and I was in the main draw against Turkey. Fortunately for me all the Turkish players withdrew and that meant that I would play a promoted player from qualifications. For doubles me and Jason would play a pair from Chile and then in mixed me and Solangel would play the 3/4 seeds from Chile.

I arrived in Trinidad may 17th at night due to it taking an entire day to get down there and didn’t get to practice that night. On the Tuesday however I was able to hit at the main venue in the night and oh boy was it a surprise. Of course like all other South American tournaments the venue was a piece of work, drafts galore and they kept changing. Now we all know the deal with me, it takes me longer than I like to adapt to those external conditions. Fast/slow shuttles that’s no problem cause it’s just the speed but once you throw in the drafts that cause the shuttle to wobble in mid-air or drift a few feet here, slow down there, etc then I have a real love hate relationship. I am not using that as an excuse, because we all have to play in the same conditions and are essentially all in the same boat. Some people are just more use to it and others adapt quicker and change their game faster to suit the conditions. Me on the other hand I was unable to do that on the faithful day of my singles match.

Tournament venue
Opening ceremonies some steel pan
Thursday rolled around and I stepped on court to play against my opponent from Suriname. I had a nice draw and it could honestly go either way. I was greeted with wind just blowing at me on court, I could feel it and it had some force. I quickly got 20-16 up and that’s when everything fell apart I don’t know how or what happened but I couldn’t win that one point and I fumbled the first set losing 21-23. That was a real mental bust but one that I wouldn’t let affect me going into the second. We switched sides and I was with the draft meaning that I couldn’t lift or push as everything would go out, so that meant I needed to control the net, something that my opponent had been doing since the start. It was a hard battle and I was unfortunate to lose 18-21 in the 2nd. I was devastated and destroyed, after my match I spent a good 10 minutes outside alone reliving the events, trying to understand what I had done wrong and to comprehend it. It happens and on that day I was outplayed.

That was not the end to the story though, I had mixed that same night which was going to be a good match. We could have a chance me and Solangel against the Chile pair. We ended up playing doubles against them and that really didn’t work at all in our favor but we didn’t switch it. We lost the match 16-21, 16-21. What a solid start I was off to in Olympic qualifications. Thursday ended and I headed home to recoup and refocus for doubles with Jason the next day that would be the last event I was still in and once again playing against Chile. That started off not bad and we were neck in neck but a few mistakes and we lost the first game, no big deal we would however switch to the harder side going with the draft. I honestly didn’t hit a single solid smash that entire tournament, anytime I played and the shuttle was lifted it would catch the draft and wobble. I have yet to play in a situation like that and didn’t know how to account for the wobble when hitting. We lost the match 18-21, 18-21 which wasn’t too bad but it was so close. The tournament stung something fierce, coming off of nationals a month before being the national champion in singles and loosing first round. Making the finals in doubles and mixed then also loosing first round. I couldn’t help but feel like I let down the entire country, on home soil none the less. The feeling ate me alive and for the first time in my career for a brief moment what others thought of me snuck in, I quickly squashed those uncertain and negative thoughts though.

So just like that the tournament was over for me and so was my first even of Olympic qualification, anybody on the outside looking in would think that trying for the Olympics after that performance would be a death sentence and futile attempt. This is me we are talking about though and you all know that I don’t give up that easily, while I may not be at the high level that isn’t going to stop me from chasing my dreams. It was Friday morning when I got knocked out so I would have till Wednesday morning before I flew back home. I would get a little bit of a vacation and some time with friends, something that I haven’t had or done in a while.

Saturday rolled around and Tishelle picked me up to cheer me up and take me out, something that was greatly needed. We went for a little drive up a Trinidad mountain (kind of a hill compared to what we are used to in Canada) but it had a great view of the city. After spending some time up there we went down to a place called Macqueripe beach, it was a private beach in a secluded cove which was pretty picturesque to be honest. We spent some time there and then headed onto the next location, the boardwalk. It is located in Chaguaramas and is essentially exactly what it sounds like….a boardwalk around the beach/ocean. A peaceful way to spend the evening so we got some food and hung out there, watching the sunset before heading home. That was a great day and something that was dearly needed but that wouldn’t be the end. That night we made spur of the moment plans to head to the beach Sunday with some of the other players. So Sunday we headed to Maracas beach (one of my favorite beach’s in Trinidad). We spent the day there, some of the foreign players joined us they were from Mauritius, Slovakia, and Czech Republic as well as the local Trinidad players. It was a fantastic day, I took a run on the beach and then we spent a few hours in the ocean. I got to play around with my new toy the GoPro and got some fun video in the ocean. Afterwards we went to watch the finals of the tournament which were spectacular. My friend from Canada who trains at the same club as me, Martin Giuffre of Glencoe Club, won the men’s singles event. The other events were great and match of the night goes to men’s doubles of Mexico vs Mexico.

Macqueripe beach
Macqueripe beach
Sunday finished and that meant Monday rolled around, Monday we were scheduled to go down the islands. It was going to be quite a few of us but some things fell through and in the end it was just 7 people that went. Some of the Trinidad players, 2 Barbados players, and the one guy from Czech Republic. We took a boat out into the bay and onto Gasparee Island where we would spend the day. The island wasn’t huge or anything drop dead gorgeous as I was expecting it to be. I thought that we were going to a private beach somewhere remote on one of the many small islands off the coast but I was wrong. Overall the day wasn’t too bad and I did opt out of going for a swim in favor of cozening up in the hammock and catching up on some reading. To me that was time well spent, it was peaceful with a marvelous view and most importantly was relaxing. The trip came to an end and with it meant that Tuesday would be my last full day in Trinidad. Time had flown by and I actually hadn’t done much physical activity let alone any badminton since getting knocked out, something that is unfamiliar to me as I am always active.

The crew going down the island
The whole crew on the boat

Relaxing in the hammock reading a book
Tuesday morning saw me get to train at our club in Chaguanas but it was horrible the sun was out meaning there was so much light coming through the open windows. We only had 1 set of badminton posts as they didn’t bring back the posts they took for the tournament. So we got creative and use the netball posts to create a court which surprisingly worked. That’s not the end of it though oh no, there were no good shuttles so we only had a handful to use for drills. Under the circumstances it was quite the gong show for a lack of better description. Not only that we were told we had just from 6am-8am because netball had the facility after us but come 8:30am we were still going. They came in and told us to clean up but netball never came, we could have continued to train but oh well. After the morning Tishelle collected me and brought me home so I could shower and eat something. We were able to spend the rest of the day together until the night. I was able to actually go see a movie in the theaters, we saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron. After that I headed home and packed everything up, getting ready to leave Trinidad on a 7:20am flight the following morning. My 9 days in Trinidad had flown by and I was heartbroken from the tournament but glad that I got a little vacation for once.

Me and Tishelle

Heading back to Calgary I would get 12 days before I fly out again to my second tournament of Olympic Qualifications the Mauritius International. The draws came out the day before I left Trinidad and boy was there a shocker, I was fortunate enough to get the last spot in the main draw that also resulted in me playing Kevin Cordon of Guatemala first round. So I have all but 12 days before taking the 2 days to fly over to the African continent for the tournament. The flip side is I will get time in Paris, France meaning I’ll cross Europe of the list as well as Africa off the continental list. So I will have set foot on all the continents minus Antarctica (for the time being at least). Let’s see how the second tournament of Olympic qualification goes, the consolation is that I will be spending my birthday away from Canada again this year. This time in Mauritius, can’t really complain being able to spend ones birthday in tropical paradise. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 Trinidad and Tobago Nationals

March 5th to 16th this year I headed down to Trinidad and Tobago for the national championships looking to make another final if not win the tournament this time. My greatest competition Kerwin Pantin had surprisingly decided not to play this year which means there would be a new national champion. The tournament started off with me scrambling to change my flights after the original dates got changed on me to the following week. This was quite the inconvenience at the time that I didn't like to have to pay for the change fee of the flight but it was something I needed to do. My goal this year is the 2015 Pan Am Games in July and that meant that I would have to win nationals to hopefully secure my spot. As I had already earned Trinidad 1 male and 1 female spot through my world ranking from traveling to tournaments, a mare 500 points away from getting them 2 and 2 spots I would need to win to increase my chances of being selected.

Heading down to Trinidad a week early so I could adapt to the conditions meant taking a full day to arrive. Departing at 6:30am Thursday morning I arrived in Trinidad 8:30pm that same night only to get picked up by my friends and head to training for 10pm-midnight that very night. Yes that’s what I do fly all day and then go train for 2 hours right after landing. That night was interesting to say the least but well needed, the following 4 days was more of the same just training and trying to get use to the conditions through playing in 3 different facilities none of which were badminton friendly. Friday we played at another place where I have gone with my friend Roger Moore many times, lots of the older crowd plays there for fun no real drills. I just needed to hit and get accustomed to how the shuttle fly’s in Trinidad so I tagged along.

Landing in Trinidad at night
Saturday and Sunday saw us literally go to the other side of the country to train. We headed down to a place called Point Fortin which was about 2 hours away from where I lived near Port of Spain. The drive down there was a long one and the highways are nothing compared to what we have in Canada so that only made things more interesting come the twists and turns, deteriorated roads and lack of roads all together in some places. The facility there was sub par to say the least, open ait with one side that was open to the sun and had shades that needed to be closed. Those same shades were impossible to close and even when closed still didn't help as much, slippery floors and crazy drafts didn’t help but hey it was an opportunity to hit some shuttles so I wouldn't pass it up. The time up there both Saturday and Sunday was well spent though and invaluable. On Sunday after the training we headed to the beach to hang out as a team and bond. That is always the part that I enjoy the most, bonding with my teammates and friends while in Trinidad. This beach I had never been to before since I rarely ever go down to Point Fortin, the last time I went was when I was a little kid. So the weekend was done just like that 4 days had passed and nationals was drawing closer. There was no draw out but the papers were already getting some newspaper articles written to stir some hype.

Point Fortin Regional Facility...yeah great place...
At least I made it out to the beach though
Monday rolled around and we got to train at our normal venue which was where the national championships would be taking place. Tuesday was a rest day and then Wednesday the day before nationals was the last training session 10pm to midnight again, we hit a few shuttles and did some drills but also discussed the draw. The draw was quite interesting yet so familiar from the previous year. Although I was the runner up in men’s singles the previous year I was unseeded this time. But a very familiar name was number 1 seed again, Alistar Espinoza was the top seed and he was on my side of the draw I would meet up for a quarterfinal match against him this year. Naim Mahommed was also on my half, I played him in quarterfinals last year but we would meet up for a semi-final match provided we both won our matches. Then Anil my semi-final match from last year was on the opposite side of the draw from me so the only chance for a rematch would be in the finals. Doubles me and Jason had a nice draw and would face the same pair we lost to the previous year in semifinals. I was also playing mixed with Nekeshia Blake, and we were on the side with the number 1 seeds which would lead to a possible semi-final match up against Kamasha and Naim.

Drink hamper that I won in the raffle at the tournament
Thursday night rolled around and matches started I made it through my 2 singles matches without too much stress and we won our mixed with a walkover so that was not bad for opening night. Friday was up next, quarterfinals matches meaning my match against Alistar. He took the first game 22-20 but then I bounced back and beat him 21-14, 21-12 a lot easier than last year and felt solid on the court. Booked my spot in 1 semi-final, just 2 more matches to go. Doubles came as a surprise as we were somehow taken to 3 but won our match, guess that’s what happens when you don’t play with your partner or practice together for a year, another semi-final spot booked. Time to go for the hat trick with mixed and this would be the first time me and Nekeshia were ever playing together period. We started off figuring out how each other plays in the first and lost that one, came back to take the 2nd game easily and then the 3rd hit. That was a tight match, we won 23-21 in something that could have gone either way. I had secured my spot in 3 semifinals for Saturday night.

My support, Tishelle and Shannon
Saturday came around, 3rd day of competition but things were a little different tonight as there was now a TV crew and they were going to be filming the matches with commentary. This was nothing new to me as I was used to being put to play on the TV courts at big international tournaments around the world. First up men’s singles and of course all 3 of my matches were scheduled to be played on the TV court. I was up against Naim Mahommed, we had a 3 gamer in the quarterfinals last year but this time I beat him in 2 straight so that was a good start to the night making it into the singles final and a rematch against Anil Seepaul. After women’s singles next up mixed doubles against Rahul Rampersad and Justin Sui the number 1 seeds who also beat us last year in 3. Oh how times changed, me and Jason beat them in 2 straight be it close 18 and 18 we secured our spot in the doubles final. After a little break to have the women’s doubles and masters doubles play was the last match of the night mixed doubles where me and Nekeisha Blake would take on Naim and Kamasha for spot in the finals. At this point both me and Nekeshia were in 2 finals each and winning this would make it 3 apiece. That is exactly what we did in 2 sets we upset the 1st seeds and secured our spot in 3 finals each. That was a satisfying feeling.

I went home that night feeling as happy as could be, I would play Anil Seepaul in the men’s singles final for the title. Jason and I would play Alistar Espinosza and Will Lee in the doubles final and then Nekeshia and I would play Alistar and Jada in the mixed doubles final. The thing is I also booked my flight to leave Trinidad Monday morning at 7:30am so win or lose that night I would go out afterwards to celebrate with my team and then pretty much pack and go straight to the airport. I got to the venue and everything was set up, the camera crew was there ready to record the matches. The order of play for the night would be; men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, master’s doubles, and lastly mixed doubles. As I was in 3 finals that should theoretically give me enough rest time in-between matches.

First up men’s singles, Anil has been a great friend and a huge influence in my representing Trinidad internationally since 2008. To play him in the finals of nations was an amazing opportunity, I had previously played him in semifinals the year before. Despite being 40 Anil still has 5 national singles titles to his name as well as various other mixed and doubles titles. The final got under way and I felt in control for the majority of the match, a few times I would slip up and lose a few points but for the most part I felt great and in the end I achieved what I set out to…I got my first nationals singles title and was crowned the national champion of Trinidad and Tobago. Next up was doubles, Jason and 1 would have quite the match up against Alistar and Will, and unfortunately we were unable to pull it off and went down fighting at least. I was denied the doubles title but that wouldn't be the end of the night for me last up was mixed. Me and Nekeshia have never played mixed together before this tournament so to make it to finals together was a fantastic surprise and possible the start of something more for us. That was all the matches all that was left was the awards ceremony. After collecting all my medals and prize money, taking some pictures with fans and friends, conversing with media and getting my congratulations from family I went out with my friends for dinner. 

1st place singles, 2nd place men's doubles and 2nd place mixed doubles
Picture with my bestie Shannon 
Mens singles top 4 all from the same club, Left to Right: 1st Me, 3/4 Sheraz, 2nd Anil, 3/4 Naim
CRISTAR Badminton Club. my club and my great friends
Dinner after winning a national title…you know what that means…yes that’s right I had a hamburger not just any hamburger but the king of all king burgers. I would have taken a picture but after 3 finals I was starving and just inhaled that sucker. After chatting with my club mates/friends about a fantastic nationals and enjoying the celebrations it had yet to sink in or hit me that I was the national champion. To me it was just like any other win, I was happy and proud of it but that’s all. To this day I get a little giddy about it but nothing over the top celebratory, guess that’s my way of celebrating it I didn't even scream when I won the match point but inside I was thrilled. This took us till past 1am in the morning and that meant I would have to go home and pack because I had a 7:30am flight to catch, despite all that I got about maybe 20-30 minutes of sleep that night and then made my way to the airport. 5 hour flight to Houston, 5 hour layover in Houston, 4 hour flight to Calgary and 10:30pm Monday night I was home and very tired. I slept the entire day the next day to make up for it and just like that I was back to the grind training and coaching. I got a lot of congratulations from friends, and some friends even took me out to celebrate over dinner.

Group picture, chowing down

This was just the beginning as Rio 2016 Olympic Qualifications start May 2015 and run until May 2016 that gives me a 1 year period to play as many tournaments as I can and try to qualify for a spot at the Olympics. That means planning out my year and training as hard as I can trying to change and work on aspects of my game that I need to in training. My next tournament will probably be in May the Trinidad and Tobago International, first one of the Olympic qualification period. Until then it’s just train train train and see where I can go. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2015 China International Challenge

Christmas and New Years had passed, 2015 was upon us and my first tournament of the year would take me back to China The country where I have gone many times to train as well have spent a considerable amount of time away from home there. The 2015 China International challenge would be in Lingshui which was in Hinan province, a tropical island in southern China. The tournament was the end of January so this wouldn't give me much time to get everything in order (Visa, tournament arrangements, etc.) but I did get it all done. This being an International Challenge there was big points in even just 1st round because it was a 32 size draw and not a 64 size. This being a 32 size and my world ranking being rather low at the time close to the 300’s I was unsure If I would make it into the main draw if a lot of people had entered the tournament. To my luck and surprise there was only 32 entries into the singles draw and every player had made it into the main rounds. I saw some familiar names in the draw, two players from Australia who I had just seen in Korea about 2 months earlier. There was also a very familiar Netherlands player who I had met many times before and talked to a lot in Tahiti amongst a few others. I drew a player from Japan so that would make things interesting but I was up for the challenge.

The time came for me to make the trip out to China, one would think it is awesome to travel and compete but let me break it down for you. It would take me almost 24 hours to get there and the same to get back, going I lose an entire day leaving Canada Saturday afternoon and arriving around 11pm Sunday night. Then leaving China early Friday afternoon of that same week and arriving back in Canada a few hours after I had originally left China. That would give me 4 in the country itself, the tournament would start on Wednesday with first rounds meaning Monday and Tuesday would be devoted to recovering from the trip and practice, Wednesday would be playing my match. So that left Wednesday after my match and Thursday to do whatever I wanted to if I didn't win my match and advance to play Wednesday. But I had to travel there first, after coaching for 4 and a half hours early Saturday morning I made my way to the airport to head to Vancouver and catch my connecting flight to Beijing which was a whopping 12 hours on its own. From Beijing I would have a quick layover and have to catch my flight from there to Senya a capital city in Hinan and from there drive over an hour to the city of Lingshui. Finally arriving at my destination at around 1:30am Monday morning I was rather tired and happy to get into a real bed as opposed to trying to sleep in an airplane seat.

After sleeping through half the day to fight off jet lag I made it out to practice at 2 different places. The first was the practice venue at a high school which was a huge campus and then the 2nd place was at the main hall which was one of the larger stadiums that I have played in. It was nice but the downside was the lights on both side were directly angled so that it was in your eyes if you looked up. Other than that the venue was set up very professionally and a pleasure to play in. Being the only player from Trinidad and not traveling with a coach gets hard at times, it’s usually just me and that doesn't give me a partner to practice with. Another player that I knew in the draw pulled out as well as some other players had yet to arrive when I was there to possibly have a hit with. So I was assigned a volunteer when I checked into the hotel and he was amazing organizing for some of the local players to come out a spar with me. That was great to have so I got lots of practice in the first day before the tournament something that I don’t always have the opportunity to do. There were lots of volunteers in the venue and they had never seen a foreigner before or somebody like me so they would line up after I finished practicing to get pictures with me.  Heading back to the hotel I went out for a night walk and saw the area as it was hustling and bustling which was nice I like how busy it gets at night. Finding food I retired back to the hotel and hunkered down for the night getting ready for what would come the next day.

Tuesday rolled around and because there were no qualification matches that meant that we could us the main venue for practice. Once again I didn't have anybody to practice with but was fortunate enough once again to meet some players from Malaysia and got to practice with them for a good hour and a half, playing mostly games with them which was a huge benefit. That was a lot later in the day so when I finished it was night almost which left me little time to really do anything else in the city or see anything. I went to the grocery store and bought some groceries which would last me the week as well as dinner at one of the local shops and my favorite bubble tea with pearls, I could buy 2-3 of those a day easily. Game day was right around the corner, quite literally, my match was the following morning and I was going to make sure that I got enough rest for that so an early night was in order. Wednesday rolled around, the weather was nice and good breakfast I had. Making my way over the venue early (it was within walking distance) was a little nerve-wracking as I knew that I was up for a hard game against the Japanese player and I would be on the TV court yet again.

The match started and I was feeling decent I was moving good and was able to push the Japanese player around the court. Simple mistakes were what cost me the most points in the match but overall I felt the best at the net and was able to win my points there. But in the end I was unable to push the match to 3 or keep it a close 2 but I was happy with the results in ways.

Just like that the match was done and my tournament had come to an end, yet another first round exit at an international but the amount of points I got was worth it. So it was still early in the morning, noon had just passed which meant I still had half the day left to go out and see whatever I could around the city/hotel. Stretching and watching a few matches in the venue I headed back to the hotel and grabbed lunch while my volunteer asked me what sights I would like to see outside of the city and started to arrange for it. After checking out things in the immediate area I came back to the hotel with food ate in the room and met up with the volunteer to discuss my plans. The two possible places that I could go was a place called Monkey Island or to one of the beautiful beaches, the downside though each location was about 1-2 hours away and just getting there would be a pain in the ass. Because of this I decided not to go and would just spend my last full day bumming around Lingshui before heading back home. The rest would do me good as it was something that I wouldn't get back home for a while. Looking around the city I was able to see some of the statues and public art that was around my hotel as well as take a dip in the amazing pool that the hotel had. Thursday had come to an end and I don’t know where the day went at all. I picked up some last minute snacks at the grocery store that I wanted to bring back to Canada with me and then started packing for the long…and I mean long journey back to Canada.

Leaving the hotel in Lingshui early Friday morning we drove straight for the almost 2 hours to get to Sanya and the international airport there where I would catch my flight back to Beijing. The fight back to Beijing was rather full and upon arrival the plane did not park at the terminal to exit directly into the airport we parked on the tarmac and had to exit there taking a shuttle to the airport. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy because it was “cold” in Beijing and all I was wearing was a t-shirt but it was only +5 which to me in Canada is warm so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.  After waiting what seemed like an eternity for my bag I rushed to check in for my flight back home through Vancouver which I made and just got to the gate as they started to board the flight. As much as I love china I didn't want to have to spend another night and miss my flight because I was to work the following day (Saturday) at 8:30am. The flight home was just as long as going but I slept and was able to watch a good amount of movies that was where everything went smooth and then in Vancouver waiting to go back to Calgary a wrench got thrown into the system. They boarded us on the flight to Calgary but there was a mechanical issue so with us still on the plane they tried to fix the problem, I had long since passed out at this point in my seat. An hour later I woke up and realized we were still on the ground, hadn't even left that’s when they deplaned us and arranged for another flight that would depart an hour later. I was dead tired at this point and when we boarded the new flight I passed out as I sat down and woke up as we landed in Calgary so that was a good was to pass the time.

That was the trip to China in a nutshell. It was weird for me because every previous time I would go to china to train and would be there 3-4 months if not longer so to only got for 4 days and a bit was foreign to me. I did not know how to feel about it, I was happy to be back in China after so long but was sad to only be in the country so short. The tournament was the tournament I can’t comment much on that, I needed the points and getting 920 from an international challenge in main draw isn't bad at all. Coming off the win in Puerto Rico a month earlier was giving me some confidence but I still wasn't able to get a win in Asia. I have had wins in every other region that I have played in but have yet to get one in the Asia continent. Next up after this would be Trinidad nationals which I got 2nd place at the previous year so this year I would be going for the title.