My Badminton and Life Blog

My Badminton and Life Blog

Sunday, April 23, 2017

2016 US Open Grand Prix Gold

The US open had been moved back to LA since its move to New York for 2 years. Despite the move back it was not given back to OCBC down in Anaheim so this was something new. It was awarded to a facility called the Los Angeles Badminton Club (LABC) which I actually played at once before.  This was good news as I would be staying at Yukos house and it wasn’t a terribly far drive, nothing compared to trying to go from Manhattan Beach to OCBC. This tournament I would be playing all 3 events. Singles, Doubles with Matt Fogarty, and mixed with Yoshi (Yukos daughter). So let’s discuss something first, let’s talk about this doubles partnership.


Earlier in the year the opportunity came up to play with Matt in the attempt to make a run at qualifying for the 2017 world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. This meant that we would be playing tournaments together in order to get the required points and the world ranking needed. The qualification for world championships is May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 so a one year period. The best 10 tournaments in that time count and only 2 teams from the same country are able to qualify. Because we are a split partnership we would count as one team from Trinidad and one team from USA. The US Open would be our first tournament together and first set or ranking/qualification points.


At the time I wasn’t even thinking about qualifying or trying to qualify for singles but that would come into play later on. So that is the new partnership that was formed and that would also lead me to some more travels than I had intended for the year. Canada open passed and then a few days later I was on my flight to LA and to see Yuko again. We got to practice at the tournament hall with Dean and Dean’s partner, also with Tuck and Jenn Yee too. The tournament venue wasn’t terrible it was a darker hall and they had adjusted the lighting to make it more “professional” but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Yuko was the nurse on duty so she would be going up each day which was nice for me as it was at least an hour to an hour and a half drive each way.

2016 US Open GPG venue at LABC

Before the tournament started though it was time to celebrate 4th of July American style, aka go down to the beach and suntan. Of course everyone was out on the beach partying and drinking it up so it was definitely a great time and so relaxing as well. That evening we went out to the tournament hall to practice again and while driving back we could see the 4th of July fireworks being set off all over the place. It is about a 40 minute to 1 hour+ drive depending on traffic but with fireworks going off it was enjoyable. The next day would be the start of the tournament and I would need to get a good night’s rest for my singles match.

Manhattan Beach on 4th of July
Soaking up some sun

First day of play, singles. It started off just like that and I was playing Ruban of Guatemala, I have never played him before and he is about the 2nd best Guatemalan after Kevin Cordon. This match was something else, I did not play smart and did not have my focus where it should have been. Because of this it left me shell shocked and scrambling around to try and figure out what to do. Ultimately that did not end well and it was a loss in singles for me. So my day was over, we stuck around and watched some other matches that were happening before me and Yuko did the long drive back to Manhattan Beach.

During Mens Singles

Mixed doubles was up first with me and Yoshi playing against Nyl and Britney from Canada. That was a tough match from the start but we didn’t do badly actually and it was a lot of fun. We ended up being on the streaming court as well so that was a bonus. Afterwards I had to play doubles and that would be the debut of me and Matt playing together. We had a decent first round against Dean (his former partner of many years) and a younger university student Ali. This was a good warm up match and ultimately we ended up winning, it was a little bit of a bittersweet win though because I like Dean and we are great friends off the court but I know this one hurt him a little. Every match from there on out I play for Dean because it truly is because of him and Yuko that I am having this opportunity available to me and I don’t think I can ever repay them.

Not gonna lie, fanboyed a little and finally got my picture with Peter Gade

This is where things would get once again interesting. We had now progressed to round of 16 at a grand prix gold tournament. The first time I could say I have been that far, even if it is just winning one round. Now we were in for a real shock, we would play a pair from Japan. The match started and I have never felt this lost before ever. No matter what we did, no matter how good a shot, no matter what everything came back with interest. I could hit a net kill straight down at the service line and somehow they would get it back with a crosscourt tight winner. It was brutal, of course they are good and it would be easy but I have never felt that lost, even when I have played top 20 singles players in the world. But the simple fact of the matter was we got absolutely destroyed on the TV/betting court. This was the beginning of a partnership though which would take us too many countries and hopefully many more wins.


For the time being my experience at the US Open was done and I would spend a few more days in LA with Yuko and her family before heading back home. The next few days involved doing some simple things, badminton and checking out Venice beach of course. We ended up going kayaking in the marina with Dean and one of his friends which was super fun to do. Having some good food and great company is always the best way to spend time. First doubles win of the year under my belt and onto the next tournaments we had planned out. Aruba with Trinidad and Tobago for CAREBACO team and individual championships in August. Brazil Grand Prix in Iguassu Falls beginning of September. Mexico International series in Cancun, and Columbia International series in Nevia both in September. I would definitely be earning my elite status this year.
Some fun out on the water

Can't go to Venice Beach and not see Muscle Beach

2016 Canada Open

Nationals had come and gone and I didn’t play another tournament after that, 2 months later Canada Open rolled around and once again it was in my hometown of Calgary. This is a tournament that I have played multiple times since its inaugural showing in Vancouver back in 2010 at the Richmond Olympic oval. It has a soft spot being in Canada but at the same time being in Calgary where everyone that I know can come watch. Last year I played a player from China and unfortunately didn’t have a great match but this year was up against a Canadian who I knew. I would play against Andy Ko from Edmonton, Alberta which was set to be a good match. Even though we were from the same province and had both been playing for a while in the Provincial circuit we never did play each other in singles until now. I would lie if I said that I wasn’t nervous for the match, I wanted to win and knew that it would be a tough one.

Practice time at the Venue

Match day rolled around and we once again went up to the Winsport facility at Canada Olympic Park (COP) where the arena was set up to host the tournament. I had friends from the USA come to participate this year as well. Yuko and Tuck, Tuck and I would be playing doubles together and he would play mixed with Yuko. We were able to get a good amount of practice in at the venue and as always the place looked great but to play there was sort of a nightmare due to all the distractions visually. None the less it was game day and do or die moment.


I stepped onto the court to play Andy and right away I was feeling nerves come over me, I haven’t experienced this feeling before. Not even when playing in my national championships or the Pan Am Games which was such a huge tournament. But I knew I had to conquer them else it would work against me. The match got under way and I had Ardy as well as Bryan sitting behind my chair, it was reassuring but at the same time nerve racking too. The match unfolded and it was a battle, point by point went by and we were close then Andy took the first game. I fought back and won the second, that meant that it would go to 3. I was feeling confident and playing well and had to lead when we switched sides and all went to hell. Something happened and for whatever reason I didn’t have an answer for his shots I stopped controlling and started reacting which ultimately in the end cost me the match.


I was disappointed, I was devastated, I was done I just didn’t know how to react. Loosing isn’t something that I want to do, it’s something that nobody wants to do. A loss in 3 games that close is just heart wrenching, especially in front of all the kids I coach, all my friends, etc it just broke my heart. I didn’t know how to feel, I felt like a failure like I shouldn’t even be competing. But that was an emotion that I would have to get over and I didn’t let it affect me for long. It is still one of those moments I look back on and have an uneasy feeling about. Andy played great and is a great player, which I would never deny him that. I usually don’t discuss my emotions and the emotional side of badminton but this is one that just got to me, coming of a national championships win to this just hit hard.


That was that though and it was time to move on to doubles. Tuck and I had just played the Manhattan Beach international together back in January and decided to give Canada Open a go. We were up against a Canadian pair of B.R. Sankeeth and Adam Dong which was an incredibly strong pair to play. Despite our best efforts we were beat relatively easy. So Canada open was done for another year, not the best performance or performance that I would have liked.


The following week would be US Open but before that it was time to show Tuck and Yuko around Canada as it was their first come coming to their friendly northern neighbour. On the agenda was showing them around downtown Calgary followed by a day trip out to Banff and Lake Louise. Which despite rainy weather ended up being quite a beautiful and fun time. Dean joined us as well and we headed up to Lake Louise to take a picture with the picturesque backdrop. Despite the rain and overcast the lake came out brilliantly green and just perfect. We walked around there for a bit but it started to rain so we darted into the hotel and hung out for a little whole the downpour passed. As we were driving back to Banff the weather of course cleared up (Calgary/Banff can have all 4 seasons in 1 day) and we headed into the city to walk around. We hung out in Banff for a little while and ate lunch there then it was time to head back to Calgary.
Picture Perfect at Lake Louise. Left to Right; Tuck, Dean, Yuko, Me
The following day we went back to COP and Yuko, Tuck, and Dean wanted to do the bobsled run. In the summer they put the bobsled on tires and will launch it from a little under half way up the track so you get a somewhat experience of what it’s actually like. I have already done it before so I let them go ahead and do it. After that they wanted to do the luge which is essentially a soapbox racer with breaks that you ride down a hill steering around corners and obstacles. Pretty much some of the best fun that you can have and it is awesome going fast. Yuko did it once and was happy enough so I took the rest of her 2 runs down the hill with Dean. Dean likes speed and dam he was ahead of me the whole way aside from one point where I passed him but he overtook me on a turn with only 1 of the 3 wheels touching the ground. That night we played some badminton and then before you know it the week was done and it was time to head to LA. Yuko left first in the night of July 1 and then Tuck the next day. I would leave July 3 in the morning and meet them in LA or well meet Yuko in LA as I would be staying at her place. Just enough time for some Canada Day celebrations and when I arrived in LA it would be 4th of July, something I have seemed to be celebrating more and more over the years.
We were gonna leave tuck behind

Luge at Canada Olympic Park