April 24, 2016 / Badminton Ontario
The 15.16 Black Knight Badminton Ontario Jr A HP Championship Off to a Great Start
With 169 of Ontario’s best junior badminton athletes registered for this weekend’s Provincial Championships, the 15.16 Black Knight Badminton Ontario Jr A HP Championship event is off to a tremendous start. Matches got underway on Friday morning at 11:00am, and are expected to continue until late Sunday afternoon.
For more than a decade, this event has been deemed an enormous success. Previous venues to have hosted the Provincial Championships include Humber College (Etobicoke), Georgian College (Barrie), and Haber Community Centre (Burlington). This is the second consecutive year that the competition has unfolded inside Atos Markham Pan Am Centre, which was previously also home to all 2015 Pan Am Games badminton matches.
This weekend, there are five age groups taking part in the 15.16 Black Knight Badminton Ontario Jr A HP Championships, including U11, U13, U15, U17, and U19 categories, with the youngest athlete participating having been born in 2008. Qualification for this weekend’s final Provincial tournament of the season is based on tournament ranking points that were gathered between September of 2015 and the beginning of April this year.
E Badminton’s Brian Yang has emerged as one of Ontario’s strongest players. The grade nine student, with a fondness for his high school Phys Ed classes, reflects on how his 2015-16 badminton season has unfolded leading up to this final Championship event.
“At the beginning of the season, I was playing against people who were better than me. They were stronger and faster, and that’s because I was playing an age group above me. I knew (early on) to never underestimate my opponents. Now, I’ve gotten used to the faster, stronger pace of the game and I really feel I’ve improved since the season began.”
When asked about his coach, Efendi Wijaya, Yang is happy to lay praise on the man who helped to get him this far.
“Off court, he’s really fun and really nice, but during training he’s serious and strict. He wants us to improve, so he’s got us doing a lot of running and skipping and stuff like that. He’s fun though, and very hard-working.”
Jacqueline Cheung is one of Mandarin Badminton’s best athletes, despite the fact that she is only in eighth grade. Cheung reflects openly and honestly about her 2015-16 season.
“This season has definitely had its ups and downs. Like, sometimes it’s a good day for me, and sometimes it’s bad. But this weekend has actually been good, and I’ve been playing pretty well here (at Provincials).
Humbly acknowledging that she has put in both hard work and effort this season, Jacqueline tells Badminton Ontario’s Sarah Miller that her ideal would be to win Singles and Doubles at this weekend’s tournament. Cheung attributes much of her season’s positive takeaways to the coaching staff at Mandarin, reflecting on the time she has spent both on and off the court with her sparring coach Febriyan Irvannaldy.
“He makes it hard for me, but he always motivates me to want to catch up. Sometimes in training – sprinting or running – he’ll run with us, and his fitness is actually a lot better than ours, so he’s always ahead of us by a metre or two, and encouraging us to catch him.”
Richmond Hill’s Darren Choi has had a similar season. A grade eight student who trains at Lee’s Badminton, Darren is competing as a U15 athlete for this final Provincial championship.
“It’s been a pretty good season for me, with a few ups and downs at some tournaments. This weekend has been kind of disappointing for me, I know I was expected to win (Singles), but I was beaten out in the semi finals.”
Following Choi’s loss in Boy’s Singles on Friday, Darren will now turn his attention to Nationals next month in New Brunswick, and eventually towards competing at the Pan Am Junior Championships. He feels, as a member and an athlete at Lee’s Badminton, he is well supported and in very capable hands.
“(Coach) Jennifer has always guided me towards being a better and better player. At national tournaments this year, when I wasn’t in Ontario, I was able to text Jennifer and she would help me (over that distance). She’s strict and demanding, but only because she always wants the best from her players.”
KCBC’s Tiffany Too, another high level badminton player who, when asked by Badminton Ontario, was able to sum up her sport and the journey she’s been on this season.
“I feel that badminton is getting more competitive, and for me it now has to blend in with school which can be stressful, but it’s also a lot more fun these days. We get chances – like this weekend – to compete more and that’s always great, even when the games are this intense!”
Of her KCBC coach, Kevin Cao, Tiffany says he’s been tough on her this year, but always in a good way.
“He can help you, and he makes you improve really fast, but he’s also really motivating. Like, this weekend hasn’t been the best for me (on the court), but we can still really see my improvement over the season. I still hope to take home a gold this weekend and use that to further motivate myself for Nationals next month.”
Tiffany, like many of her fellow competitors, acknowledges that the competition on the courts this weekend is among the very best in the country. With so much talent in one competition, unexpected winners might emerge.
Badminton Ontario (BON) is a not for profit amateur sport organization responsible for badminton within the province of Ontario. Badminton Ontario's vision is to connect with all athletes participating in badminton in Ontario, inspire athletes to cherish badminton and establish it as their sport for life.
For more information contact: Sarah Miller, Badminton Ontario, cell (905) 749-0361 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org