2011 was a year that saw a lot happen for me. Both good and bad stuff but the scales are tipped more towards the good.
So starting off at what seems ages ago for the beginning of 2011 not much was happening was in school and still training hard for badminton. New years had just passed and had made my New Year’s resolutions as well as set my goals for 2011. January, February, and Match saw me playing a lot of local provincial tournaments in Alberta. Come April that is when I went out to play Internationals once again with the Peru International. That was a good tournament with a win in singles for me and a very close doubles game where I partnered with a top Canadian mixed player Toby Ng who is on track to go to the Olympics with his mixed partner. Originally I was to go to Osaka for the Osaka International but the Tsunami hit Japan and flights into Japan at the time were not happening so I had to find another tournament to attend. I will however be heading to Osaka in 2012 for the tournament which will be nice for sure.
May saw junior nationals and I played in u23 representing Alberta, the tournament was held at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver. I had played there in 2010 when I played the Canadian Open. This time was still not as pleasant as the first time. Large venue, trouble seeing and drafts made things interesting and is just something that needs to become second nature with me when I start to play in these large venues. All in all though it was a great time and I had fun playing junior nationals.
Shortly after that was my birthday and summer vacation for 2011 which all seems to have happened so fast. I didn’t do anything special for my birthday I never really do I will go out for dinner with people or see people and that’s about it. I got to see a good amount of my friends in the months of May and June which was and is always a nice thing. I did spend a lot of time trying to get on court as much as I could though due to playing the US Open in July and going to China in July/August. With this year (May 2011 to May 2012) being Olympic qualification year the tournaments are attracting a lot of top players from all over the world.
US Open wasn’t too bad I got to see 3 really good friends who live down in the LA/San Diego area which is always nice. I saw some of the top players in the world, from Bao Chunlai, Tien Minh Nguyen, Sho Sasaki, to former Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat. That was a treat to watch them play and be in their presence. After US Open I flew back to Calgary for 1 day and then left to China to train for over a month there.
I will always love going to mainland China, I simply love it there everything about it the culture the city everything. I spend my time in Nanning and will always go back to that city it is my second home you could say haha. I had an amazing time in China, made a lot of new friends and will go back again in the future. I won’t be going back in 2012 but may try and go back to train there in 2013 for sure.
China Training Group
In a Chinese Museum
After China I came back to Calgary for a little over a week and a half and then I went off to the Caribbean mainly Barbados and Trinidad as well as some other locations for tournaments. Jet lag and 45 days of training hard had taken a toll on my body and it was not happy with me at that point. The time spent down there was amazing I got to see old friends that I had not seen in a year and made even more new friends.
Eating in Barbados
After my time down there it was time to come back home and go to school yet another semester, I take 3 courses a semester because I am training daily and working on top of that. I want to make sure I can do great in the courses I take but also try and focus on my badminton as much as I can. I didn’t play any local tournaments after that because I really wanted to focus on training and improve and get better. I have only been training/playing badminton for just about 5 years now total and I am happy where I have gotten but I know that I have a lot of catching up and improving to do. I really want to take this as far as I can and well ultimately that will conclude with an Olympic run in 2016. That’s 5 years from now and I will work as hard as I can and want to see what I can do and accomplish in that time. If I don’t make it to that point I would like to at least have a ranking of being in the top 100 in the world at some point in my career.
Currently finishing off 2011 I am ranked 407 in the world as of Thursday December 29, 2011 and the week before December 22 I was ranked 400 in the world for Men’s Singles. My goal for 2012 is to finish in the top 250 in the world and if I can play a few more tournaments than the 4 I have lined up already then I would like to finish in the top 200 in the world.
The next international that I played came in November which was the Miami International down in well Miami. That was fantastic to go down there and I was feeling great I played a singles game against an amazing player from the states and it wasn’t bad I was seeing improvements in my game and happy with my play. I also played mixed with my mixed partner and we ended up losing to a tough US pair. The worst moment of my year happened at that point. The second last point of my last mixed match I played a simple backhand push and then out of nowhere I felt a sharp pain rip through my hand I couldn’t even hold onto the racquet at that point I didn’t know what I had done and had to return serve right after that. We ended up losing that match but I still had to travel home in that condition and let me say it was hell. My hand was pretty much useless I couldn’t do anything with it couldn’t hold anything and even just holding it still it killed.
Men's singles match
Men's singles match
When I got back to Calgary I went to physiotherapy as well as doctors to see what had happened and after X-rays and ultrasounds they came to the conclusion that I had stretched out (almost ripped) 3 of the tendons in my hand. The tendons that ran through the pinkie, ring finger, and middle finger of my right hand which is also my racquet hand. This was devastating for me this meant that I couldn’t train or even play badminton for a while. That while turned out to be 3 weeks before I could hold a racquet again and when I did that the only thing I could do was hit net shots that slowly progressed into being able to hit drops and then clears. Now about 6 weeks after all that the tendons are still healing its the one that runs from my wrist into my pinkie that is taking the longest to heal. I can hit most shots now with the exception of backhands and lifts but within another month everything should be as good as new.
With that happening it saw me doing a TON of footwork pretty much every day I would go to training and just do footwork for the 2 hours and then fitness and leg weights on my own time. I can finally start to work out my upper body again but slowly. All in all though I am happy that I was able to do all that footwork, I am trying to make sure to do that daily on top of training because I feel that it has helped my game. Because of my inability to hit a backhand now I have had to make sure I am quick enough to get into the backhand corner and hit an around the head, I just now instinctively go for an around the head and I feel that is a great step forward in my game so through tragedy came something good.
There was one more international that I played for the year and that would be the last one of 2011. It was the 2011 Canadian International which was all the way out in Moncton, New Brunswick. My hand had not fully healed and I couldn’t hit smashes, backhands, lifts or drives even. It was going to be tough but I knew that I could get into main draw and that was a decent chunk of points that would be useful in playing my tournaments next year. I was drawn against the 5th seed 1st round and it was tough not being to hit many shots, even trying to hit a crosscourt clear was painful and wasn’t going to happen. That tournament passed and that leaves us here at the end of the year where I am writing up a year in reflection one day before New Years.
Men's singles match
Because I have some time it being Christmas break and all with not much training I decided to finally go and get my tattoo done. I choose to get something incredibly meaningful to me and I went with the phrase “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” but I got it done in Chinese characters going down my back. 有志者，事竟成 literally means “if a person has ambition, things will be accomplished” and that is very meaningful to me. I am a determined individual and I am going to put all I have into badminton and go as far as I can with it. So now in the family both I and my mom have tattoos, my dad is the odd one out without one haha.
Right after the tattoo was inked
Once the bandages came off, the final product
So that was 2011 in a nut shell, from badminton to my love life and everything in-between. 2012 is right around the corner and I already have 4 tournaments lined up (Vietnam and Osaka Internationals, US Open and Canadian Open) so we will see how those all go. I have my Elite status with Air Canada now which means upgrade credits which means executive class to Asia when I travel. 2011 through the highs and lows you have been an interesting year and I can’t wait to experience 2012 in its entirety.
Goodbye 2011 hello 2012.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
This was my last International tournament of 2011 and it was the Canadian International Challenge out in Moncton, New Brunswick December 12-17th but I was out there December 11-15th. This tournament is my last of the year and counts towards Olympic qualification points so it attracted a decent amount of people. For this tournament I was up against 5th seed Stephan Wojcikiewicz of Canada 1st round.
The good news was that I could hold a racquet again and even play some simple shots, clears, drops, forehand lifts, etc. The bad news was I could not constantly smash, play backhands, hit drives or play backhand lifts effectively due to no strength in my hands tendons. Playing against such an amazing talented player as Stephan proved incredibly hard and something that I was not able to do well. I played as hard as I could with the shots that I could hit but it was just near impossible to win points against him. I ended up getting crushed but am happy with how things went and know even more what to work on for the next year. I did receive a decent amount of points for a 1st round loss still which will boost my world ranking in the next week to somewhere around 400th in the world.
Rock Tape provided basic support but didn't help the 3 tendons in my hand too much =(
Clip of Me Vs. Stephan Wojcikiewicz 
I would like to achieve better tournament results in 2012 and will be working hard to do that. I am happy with where I have gotten in playing/training badminton for the past 4 and a half years. There is still a huge gap that I need to close with the players that have been playing/training for at least 10 years and started when they were young. We will see what 2012 has in store for me what tournaments I will play and how the year will pan out for me. I will finish off Christmas break and 2011/ beginning of 2012 doing footwork every day alternating between no weight vest and a weight vest. This will allow my hand to heal further and hopefully be ready in January when group training starts back up.
Until then I have some finals to write one Friday (tomorrow) and Monday December 19th. And will probably post a year in reflection blog, well I will try to do my best to post one up. A lot of great things have happened this year as well a lot of bad things too, but will dwell into that later.
Posted by Nicholas Bonkowsky at 10:49 PM