My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

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.