Flying down to Trinidad is always straight forward and something that I have been doing for years. I fly united and go through Houston so it’s a full day affair leaving in the morning and arriving in the evening. Usually when traveling to an international I arrive 1-2 days before the tournament but when I play nationals I always try and arrive 4-5 days before so I can adapt and feel really comfortable on court. Although the tournament is held at my home club in Trinidad I don’t get to play on the courts other than the 1 week a year that I play nationals so it is nice to get that extra court time to readjust to the conditions down there. I am spoiled in Canada since we play and train in the perfect conditions which in reality you rarely every find outside at competitions. The previous year in 2015 I wasn’t seeded at all and that had been an issue to people as I was in the finals in 2014 and not seeded in 2015. This year I was 3rd seed despite winning nationals the year before. That definitely raised questions to everybody down there, but in reality it’s whatever to me I don’t really care that much about seeding.
I left Calgary and arrived In Trinidad but that would not be the only trip I was taking this time. After playing nationals in Trinidad I would head out to Atlanta for a little relaxation and mini vacation. I would be spending about 12 days in Trinidad and then another 10 days in Atlanta being gone for almost a month. But back to Trinidad first and it was nice to have the heat hit me when I arrived. Calgary had an abnormally warm winter though without a lot of snow falling but nothing beats a tropical island in the Caribbean. Arriving was nothing new, get to the airport, grab something to eat, wait for my aunt to pick me up and then home we went. The first few days was nothing special I pretty much just played badminton at the CRISA arena in Chaguanas to familiarize myself to the courts and shuttle speed again. I was playing singles, doubles with Jason Ramjass, and mixed doubles with Kerian Quan Chee. My old mixed partner had gotten banned for a year and was unable to play nationals or play period at the time. Practice was done and the tournament was set to start, just 4 nights this year Wednesday through to Saturday night.
|Funny faces are what I do best and frequently on court|
Singles was up first and I played a slightly older recreational players who played for one of the oil companies, followed by the 2nd round of singles that night where I played fellow club mate Alverio in which we had a fun match. That was the first night of action and there would be many more, not to mention newspaper articles as well. The second night consisted of another round of singles as well as a round of doubles and mixed. I played Sheraz another club mate in singles and then in doubles we had a fairly straightforward match and mixed was a lot closer as all of us on court were pretty similar skill. Day 2 done and was in all 3 semifinals.
So when the 2nd last night rolled around I have to play a player named Will Lee who I had never played before but he traveled with us to CAREBACO last year and we sort of talked then. It was a match that went to 3 as I was actually nervous and played emotional badminton opposed to actual badminton. I was able to pull it off in the 3rd thanks to Kerian and Naim for coaching me through it. That means that I was in the men’s singles final again. Men’s doubles didn’t go our way though and we ended up losing to Anil and Milind a German who married a Trinidadian girl and lives in Trinidad. He also won the other semi-final for men’s singles so I would play him in the finals, also he’s who Kerian and I beat first round in mixed. Mixed doubles saw us make the final as well when we beat Leanna and Jewel to advance. I was only in 2 finals this year, which was alright with me as can’t always get everything that I want.
Finals night, the night of all nights came around and I would be playing in the singles and mixed. Singles was up first and it would be against Milind Ogale a German citizen who is a resident of Trinidad and Tobago because he married a Trinidad woman. So you can imagine the newspaper headlines on that one, German Vs Canadian comes to mind. The match was pretty straight forward and there were no nerves this time to take it all the way and win my second national title in men’s singles.
Up next were the other matches and then the final match of the night, mixed doubles. Rahul had already won the men’s doubles final and now was going for title #2. Rahul and Stephanie had played together for years and this was the first time me and Kerian have played together despite being from the same club. The match went to 3 and unfortunately I would only be getting one national title this time in the singles.
So a 1st place in singles, 2nd place in mixed doubles, and 3rd place in men’s doubles would be the medal haul for the 2016 nationals.
|2nd place in mixed for the 2nd year in a row|
|3rd place mens doubles|
The previous year I flew out the morning right after I won nationals but this time I stayed an extra day. That extra day I celebrated in style a little winning another title we went out for dinner and then afterwards went to a club and lived it up, downside I flew out that next morning so the night was a little short lived. It would not be back home this time though, I would be making a stop over to Atlanta and spend just over a week there. A nice and well deserved vacation after winning nationals.