The R.D. Parker Collegiate contingent competing at the senior badminton provincials being hosted in Thompson May 3-4 includes some players returning to the championship tournament, some making their first and only appearance and a coach who was a player the last time badminton provincials were held here in 2006.
Newcomers include the boys’ doubles team of Shiv Vyas and Alin Patel, both in Grade 12, who have only three seasons’ worth of experience between them.
“I’ve only been playing badminton six or seven months,” said Vyas, who moved to Canada from India last year.
His first tournament saw him playing singles and he characterizes the experience as “crazy.”
“The competition was too tough,” Vyas says. “I won two games but it wasn’t that good of a performance but the next tournament we played doubles and did good. I go with the doubles playing style more. That attack and kill, just attacking every time, that’s what I like and that’s how doubles is played.”
Patel was a singles competitor last year and says that he prefers playing with a partner.
“There is less movement and there is someone to cover you when you mess up,” said Patel, adding that the zone championships in Thompson two weeks ago were a good experience, even if they ended up losing the boys’ doubles title to fellow RDPC Trojans Murphy Krentz and Hunter Rambow. The pair have set their sights high for provincials.
“We are hoping to pull off top 10 and we’ll do it if we keep doing good,” Patel said.
The mixed doubles team of Samantha Palaniuk and Joshua Smud are back for a second shot at provincials, after making the playoffs and finishing 16th last year.
“I want to do better than we did last year,” said Palaniuk. “That’s my goal. “
She says she thinks playing at home will be an advantage.
“You know the lines better and the atmosphere and the people,” she says.
Whether having been to provincials before is an advantage or not, Palaniuk can’t say.
“I think we might psyche ourselves out a little more because we know how tough the teams are but it’s nice knowing the kind of competition that’s there.”
Smud says he doesn’t think he and his partner have reached the height of their performance potential.
“I definitely think we could have played better [at zones,” he says, identifying serve reception as one area he’s been working on in preparation for provincials along with his mental and emotional outlook.
“Just making sure I keep a strong mental game, make sure I don’t get worked up over a point loss,” Smud said.
Adam Morin was a Grade 12 student-athlete in 2006 when RDPC last hosted the badminton provincials and says it’s a little different coming back as a coach.
“We had zones and my palms were sweating,” he says. “I was more nervous than I would be playing.”
Morin thinks some of his players have a shot at a medal and that the team overall will finish in at least the top three in the race for the AAA team banner.
“For me this season was mainly a building season but now they’ve all been progressing so much I think we’re definitely contenders, which is good,” Morin said. “I think if we can keep nerves in check that we’ll definitely see a couple on the medal podium for sure.”
In the run-up to the provincials, coaches have been concentrating on making sure that players practise with game-like intensity.
“The way we practise is going to directly translate to the court so if we practise with less intensity, we’re going to play with less intensity so the idea is, the drills that we’re running, everything we do, it’s just a very aggressive mindset.
The senior badminton provincials will be played n both of RDPC’s gyms and the Thompson Regional Community Centre gym, with playoffs beginning on the tournament’s second day.