The time had come and it was the first tournament of the year, the 2016 Manhattan Beach International in Manhattan Beach, LA. I had been to LA many times before, to many to count on ones hands but never to Manhattan Beach. My good friend Yuko Kawasaki lives there and invited me to stay with her for the tournament so I wouldn’t pass up the offer to hang out with a good friend. I boarded the all familiar flight to LA and before you know it had landed in LAX the only difference was that I had a late night flight and arrived some 1am in the morning. After arriving I was picked up and whisked away to Yukos house to get some sleep for the night. I had never seen her house before and when I arrived I was amazed at how tightly packed all the houses were packed into their lots and next to each other. But it was nice to be in their mansion for the week and hang out with and meet the family. The tournament wasn’t to start for a few days I went down early to adjust to the place and get a decent hit in at the venue and of course check out the beach.
|The beach at Manhattan Beach|
So first things first I went down to the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club (MBBC) which is where the tournament was going to take place. A small private club located about a 10-15 minute walk from the beach. The club is a simplified version of the Glencoe Club in Calgary as it is just badminton courts and an outdoor pool area as well as a sort of sitting area too. Nice little club located within Manhattan Beach though and very popular not just for its badminton but just as a space for people to go and hang out by the pool. The tournament wasn’t meant to start for a few days so I was able to get in some hitting with friends who were there as well as some of Yuko’s friends who were playing the tournament (Dean and Jen) as well as Yuko’s daughter who I was playing mixed doubles with. I was however unable to practice with my doubles partner before the tournament happened.
One nice thing that you don’t always see at the lower level of tournaments is that they had a welcome dinner for us. The city of Manhattan Beach hosted an athlete’s welcome dinner at the local fire station for the event. The firefighters cooked some pasta dishes for us and salad as well they honoured some of the top badminton players to come out of Manhattan Beach and the MBBC be those nationally, internationally, and Olympians.
|Dinner at the local fire station|
The time passed and eventually the day arrived for the tournament to start. In singles I would play Job Castillo from Mexico, in doubles Tuck and I would play Bjorn and Matthew Fogarty both from USA, and in Mixed Yoshi and I would play Bjorn (USA) and his girlfriend Marina from Mexico. Side note I was going to play Manhattan Beach international and then after play Thailand Grand Prix Gold but the flights didn’t work out to leave and get to Thailand in a good time for my first match so I had to cancel that trip and withdrew from the tournament before the draw was published even though I was in the main draw. Match day came and singles was up first, I played Job and this was the first time we had ever played despite attending so many of the same tournaments. It was a tough game from the start but I was able to rally with him and make him move, in the end though he prevailed and beat me so that ended singles. Doubles came next and it was the first time me and Tuck had played together period. We had such a close game with Matt and Bjorn losing 19-21, 19-21 to them, the winner of that match automatically went to semifinals and got a medal. Matt and Bjorn would however make it to the finals and lose in 3 games to a pair from Indonesia so the fact we almost beat them was very promising for us and a great result. Mixed was last and likewise it was Yoshi and my first time playing together so it was a learning experience and a fun time none the less. We were able to string some rallies together but I would need to improve my mixed for sure after playing.
The tournament had come to an end, a phrase I say all too often these days it seems. No medals here but was very close in the doubles to getting one yet at the same time I was satisfied with the results. It was the first tournament of the year and definitely not the last to come. But in the meantime I would be off to China to spend time with Belinda and her family so I had that to look forward to. Anybody who knows me knows that I have a huge soft spot for China, I just love it there and now I would get to go back first trip for the year so of course I was excited. Plus it’s a long flight on a big plane and just as well anybody who knows me knows that I love flying on big planes and that I don’t consider anything under 5 hours of flying traveling. I did however have a few days left to kill in LA so I did spend most of my time at the tournament and the beach of course as well at one local attraction.
Sand Dune Hill is the name of the massive sand dune in Manhattan Beach that is famous for anybody into fitness and working out. Back in the day everyone use to run it from the football and basketball teams that call LA home to the various other athletes and just anybody who wants a killer workout in general. So me being me the lover of fitness I had to try it and run up and I was not disappointed at all. Firstly off it is all sand, secondly the angle of it is rather ridiculous, and thirdly it’s pretty high. Starting out strong I soon felt the effects of running and having your feet just sink into the sand, at one point I was almost on my hands and knees to crawl up the hill but in the end I made it. Dean recorded the whole thing and added a pretty fun commentary to it as well. I got a picture at the top cause Yuko took the stairs up to meet me there and then headed back down. After that we went for a nice and a lot easier walk along the beach. That was my last activity in Manhattan Beach before flying out to Beijing the following day.
All in all I am satisfied with the tournament and learned more about what I needed to do and work on. The next tournament would be Trinidad and Tobago nationals which I would try to defend my title at. That would be taking place in April so still a few months to prepare for it but no travel or tournaments prior unfortunately. Until then another trip to LA was completed and added to the books for the travel stats of 2016. Not to mention I had now switched from Air Canadas reward program over to United’s program because Air Canadas was getting harder and harder to achieve status and the past few years I would always be one tier lower status each year. United’s program was so much easier and I always fly United to Trinidad so it is a no brainer, I also am pretty happy with their service.
|Victory on top of sand dune hill after conquering it|