R.D. Parker Collegiate's athletes of the month for April didn't finish their badminton season as champions but it wasn't for lack of trying.
"I attended all the practices and camps that were available," says female athlete of the month Alexandra Correia, a Grade 12 student who played badminton for all four years of high school and made it to the quarterfinals of the senior women's doubles competition at the Zone 11 badminton championships in Thompson with her partner Deandra Howard.
"This was the first year we've played together," said Corriea, who was teamed up with Howard for the second tournament of the year in Flin Flon, a pair the coaches stuck with for zones. "We played in Flin Flon and didn't do half bad."
That success continued at home.
"We did really good in the round robin," said Correia, but knew they were up against a tough opponent in the quarterfinal round when they faced Shelby Beardy and Trishten Turner from Grand Rapids School, who ended up winning the division. "We knew we were going to lose but we tried. I've known those girls since Grade 9 and can never beat them. They're just really good."
Grade 9 student Sheraz Butt, who played competitive badminton for the first time in an elementary school tournament last year, said he went to every practice this season which helped him to learn the rules and hone his skills.
"We learned a lot from practices and the camp," he said, and that practice paid off at zones when he and his partner Jashan Sandhu finished third in the junior men's doubles event after winning all of their round-robin matches.
"We were playing pretty good," said Butt, who'd only played a few games with his partner prior to zones. "We were happy to make it to the semifinals. That game was pretty close. We tried out best."
Overall, Butt says the season was a success, both on and off the court.
"It was pretty good," he says. "You get to meet people, make new friends."
But once the game begins, it's all business.
"It was pretty tough," he said. "People were pretty good."
Correia had a similar outlook.
"It was good," she said looking back on the season. "The trips were fun and I did better than expected at zones."
It is sad to realize that her high school badminton career is over, however, because it means she will no longer see some of the competitors from other schools she'd gotten used to seeing a couple of times every year.
Correia, who also plays ringette and plans to compete in track and field before this school year is done, says she likes the friendly nature of badminton, as well as the fact that it's not just for the super athletic.
"It helps but it's mostly like a tactical sport," she said, and noticed a big difference between junior competition, in which she won the only three medals of her high school badminton career, and the senior ranks.
"Seniors definitely got harder," said Correia, who also admitted that the top players were difficult to play against. "You know you're going to lose but you try to get as many points as possible. It feels like they're in charge the whole time and they just play with you."
Butt has plans to play again next year and says the most important thing in doubles is to have an idea of what your partner will do so you can think strategically.
"You know you need to plan ahead," he says.