The 2011 Morocco International was held in the city of Marrakech between May 12-15. There were a fair number of Canadians attending this tournament, including Stephan Wojcikiewicz (MS), Derrick Ng (MS/MD), Adrian Liu (MD/XD), myself (XD), Nicole Grether (WS/WD), Charmaine Reid (WS/WD), Joycelyn Ko (WS/WD/XD), and Grace Gao (WD/XD). We stayed at a 4-star Atlas Targa and Resort Hotel which wasn't too bad. It had a huge swimming pool but access to food was quite limited. I have shot a video for it which I will attach later.
The tournament itself was not very organized. Draws had not been completed except for the MS qualifying, leaving 64 draws for MS, WS, and XD untouched. On Thursday, only MS qualifications were played, leaving a very large number of matches to be played on 5 courts. Because of poor scheduling, on Friday, we played 2 rounds of MS, WS, and XD with nothing played in MD and WD. Saturday's schedule was 2 rounds of MD and WD, with 1 round of MS, WS, and XD to bring us all to the QFs, which was ALSO held Saturday evening. That was a LOT of matches for some of the players. That also meant Semi-finals and Finals would have to be played on the same day, on Sunday.
|2011 Morocco International Poster|
Overall, the tournament wasn't actually too bad. Surprisingly, the venue wasn't as bad as it first seemed, though they had to cover up a few windows and the courts were actually taped on to the floor. I have a video of the venue that will be posted below. Shuttles weren't too bad as we were using Yonex AS-40s (instead of regular 50s or Tournaments), but they ran out of shuttles and had to go use AS-30s in some of the finals. Unfortunately, the scheduling was rather poor, because that meant we would miss a possible meal. Since we could only have the hotel buffet, we would have to pay an extra 20 Euro for lunch and dinner on top of our accommodation costs. Also, we had a player's banquet that was held really late Friday night. The food didn't come out until pretty late and was Moroccan styled food. Normally I wouldn't mind trying something new, but because I didn't want to risk getting sick, I decided not to try. There was some interesting entertainment at first, as we got to see some snake charmers, but that was the highlight of the dinner, other than some of our rather futile attempts at requesting that they turn down the volume of their music. I already didn't like their music in the first place, but to blast it at a volume loud enough to make my ears ring for an hour after leaving early, that speaks large amounts (though not as much as my Facebook status at the time ~__^).
I could say the tournament didn't go too bad for the Canadians, though it went much better for Germany and Spain, who captured the doubles events and the singles events respectively. However, we ended up taking a few medal spots in the doubles events, with Adrian/Derrick making the semis in MD, Nicole/Charmaine making the semis in WD, Adrian/Joyce making semis in XD, and Grace and I taking 2nd place in the XD. Below are a few matches that I have and more information on the final results can be found on Badzine.
[Final Results - Badzine.net]
[Draws - Tournament Software]
2011 Morocco International - YouTube Links:
XD R16: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Ruben Khosadalina/Meisy Jolly Lee [INA]
WD QF: Elena Prus/Anna Kobtseva [UKR] vs. Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao [CAN]
XD QF: Johannes Schoettler/Sandra Marinello [GER] vs. Dorian James/Michelle Edwards [RSA]
XD SF: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Johannes Schoettler/Sandra Marinello [GER]
XD F: Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels [GER] vs. Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN]
|2011 Morocco IC Podium - XD (Missing: Liu/Ko [CAN] 3/4)|
|2011 Morocco IC Podium - WD|
|2011 Morocco IC Podium - MD (Missing: Liu/Ng [CAN] 3/4)|
|2011 Morocco IC Podium - WS (Missing: Allegrini [ITA] - 3/4)|
|2011 Morocco IC Podium - MS (Missing: Zweibler [GER], Palyama [NED] - 3/4)|
Here are some of my specialty videos where I try to film the city, the venue, and the hotel. The videos aren't the greatest, especially the hotel one as I was walking around pretty quickly, but hopefully it can give you a brief taste of what I saw, as I believe video captures a more realistic scene.
Bus Ride from Venue to Hotel (HD 720)
Tournament Venue (HD 720)
Atlas Targa and Hotel Resort (HD 720)
|Downtown Madrid, Spain|
The 2011 Spanish International was held in Madrid. We stayed at one of the listed tournament hotels, but because the tournament rate was ridiculously high, we booked the hotel ourselves online (which I hope upcoming athletes who want to start traveling should try to do sometimes). The tournament hotel is most convenient usually, as transportation from the airport is provided, and transportation to the venue is also usually provided, but you might be paying a premium for these services. In this case, since there was no transportation to the venue anyway, we saved quite a bit, even though we had to find our own breakfast and get our own transportation from the airport. Nonetheless, we were able to share a cab with Karyn Velez [USA] and her dad when we got into Spain, which probably saved us each 5-10 Euros =)
Spain International was a decent tournament, but unfortunately, there was no practice facility, unless we paid to play (in addition to our own transportation arrangements). So from Monday until Wednesday, we had no practice courts. Fortunately there was a gym in the hotel which was decent, so we were able to at least stay active. We actually stumbled upon a decent Chinese restaurant with good prices, and Grace, Charles Pyne [JAM], and I found ourselves eating there quite a few times before the tournament started. We also got to wonder around and found our way into downtown Madrid. There were a LOT of people there, with various street performers and everything, but I would say a lot more to see than things to do. Aside from the fact that I didn't want to spend unnecessary money, I did get to walk around and do some video shooting =) The link will be attached after the matches!
|A stadium near our hotel|
Once the qualifications began, we had some practice courts to hit on, so we spent a bit of time trying to get ready for the tournament. My first scheduled match was actually the final match of the day on Friday evening at 10:00pm. I was a little nervous, as I wasn't sure how I was going to play with minimal hitting time over the week, and we were also playing an English team. The English have some pretty good mixed teams, so even though they seemed to be a young team, we would have to be careful. The first game didn't go very well unfortunately, and that meant we really needed to work hard in the 2nd and 3rd sets. And indeed it was, as we had to go the full distance in the 3rd set and barely scraped by. Special thanks to the Mexican team who stuck around and cheered for us! It was nice to have some encouragement especially when the other team is supposed to be the underdog... Anyway, the match did take a toll on us, as we had to play the next morning at 10am. It's really a test of figuring out the best thing to do, and perhaps it could have been a mistake to watch our video before we went to sleep, but it's really hard to say. When you don't play a great match and need to prepare the next day, would you watch a video to catch your mistakes or just sleep on it? Actually, it was worse for me, because I was quite sore from the game and had to do some additional foam rolling and Self Myofascial Release stuff on my body, or else I know for certain I would be too stiff to play the next day...
Regardless of what we should have done, the QFs seemed to be a repeat of the night before. We easily lost the 1st set and had to force the next 2, but this time we weren't so lucky. The real problem of being seeded is that if your opponents get the confidence that they can beat you, it makes it a lot harder to beat them. If they come into a match nervous and you play well at the beginning, they usually lose confidence and give up. Well, the opposite happened of course, and no, we didn't come back and win it... A big thanks to Karyn and her dad for trying to cheer us on =) But yeah... I was pretty choked that day and I got myself sick because I didn't really eat much the rest of the day. Unfortunately, because of that, I don't have any pictures or footage of the venue, or any matches other than my two mixed ones from Spain. I did try to take a video of downtown Madrid, but I was having a headache and walking fast, so it makes the footage very shaky (really Blair Witch style... kinda). Oh well... not the best tournament, but it is what it is...
[XD Results - Tournament Software]
2011 Spain International - YouTube Links:
XD R16: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Ben Stawski/Lauren Smith [ENG]
XD QF: Zvonimir Durkinjak/Stasa Poznanovic [CRO] vs. Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN]
Walking Around Downtown Madrid (HD 720)
|Some kind of political event that happened when we were walking downtown|
Guess that's my trip to Africa and Europe! It's actually not too bad I guess, because we were able to push our World Ranking back up to the first page (Top 25) for now =) Hope next trip will be better because next time we are playing with the big guns from around the World in Singapore and Indonesia!
Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you will continue to support me on my 2012 Olympic run! Thank you, everyone =)