Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 Maldives International Challenge (Part I of Asia Tour)

(Additional Photos are on my Facebook Fan Page!)

City view from hotel in Male, Maldives

As I have a lot of footage from my 3 tournament tour in Asia, I've decided to split it into 3 parts (Maldives, Singapore, then Indonesia). The 2011 Thailand Grand Prix Gold was held the same time as the 2011 Maldives International Challenge, but all the Canadians participated in Maldives instead, as Thailand had a significant jump in the level of the players. There was a fairly large team traveling to the Maldives, including Stephan Wojcikiewicz, Charmaine Reid, Nicole Grether, Adrian Liu, Derrick Ng, Joycelyn Ko, Alex Bruce, Michelle Li, Phyllis Chan, Grace Gao, and myself. Grace and I had a pretty rough itinerary getting there, as we missed a few flights and had to go on later flights. We flew from Calgary -> Vancouver -> Hong Kong, but missed our connecting flight to Singapore. We had to wait 2 hours more for the next one, but that flight was further delayed another 2 hours. We were scheduled to arrive in Singapore at about 10pm, but got in at about 2:30am instead o__O We had a hotel booked for the rest of that night and flew the next day to Sri Lanka. Again, for some reason, our flight was delayed in Singapore because of 'missing people' and we missed our connecting flight to Male, Maldives when we got to Sri Lanka. Instead of catching the 6:30pm flight, we had to wait for the 1:00am flight. Fortunately, it wasn't too long of a flight and we got in around 2:30am again. Luckily, we were met by the tournament people, so they brought us to the tournament hotel =) Quite interestingly, the airport in Male is on its own island, so we had to take a ferry into the main city where the hotel was. Never experienced a 3am boat ride before... In case you're still not sure where the Maldives is, it's a small country made up of many islands below Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. Usually people are looking for island getaways or honeymoons, as it is very beautiful down there.

3am boat ride from airport to main island

The tournament hotel, The Beehive Nalahiya, was pretty good though I had to share a triple room with Grace and Phyllis. Unfortunately that meant a double bed + cot, so I obviously got the cot. That was the worst cot I've slept in EVER, and thinking back, I don't know how I was able to spend a week in that thing. There wasn't too much cushioning and if you slept on it the wrong way, you get a piece of metal bar in your back o__O The hotel also had a common area, including a kitchenette and laundry machine, but none of those were working. The hotel food was pretty good though, and I spent a lot of time there as there weren't too many restaurants around and most of us didn't trust their food. The breakfast buffet was alright, but costed about $11 USD, which we only found out after our first morning, because usually tournament hotels include breakfast. Their lunch and dinner menu were pretty affordable however, with meals only costing about $5-9 USD.

The venue was near the side of the island, hence all the boats.

The venue wasn't too bad. There was a very slight draft in the venue, and they played the tournament on only 3 courts. The floor was fine, but the venue itself was not air conditioned. Though it's manageable for spectating, it was excruciatingly hot for the competitors. I would rate this as the hottest, most humid venue I've played a tournament in. The tournament had a few re-draws, as two players pulled out of a 66 player MS draw. Since there were 64 people, the referee decided to do a redraw. Mixed and Women's Doubles also faced redraws, due to the fact that two Japanese teams that entered in the Mixed Doubles draw were actually Women's Doubles teams =P ... so those draws obviously needed to be changed.

Opening ceremonies at the venue before play on Day 1. Dancers were performing a traditional dance.

The tournament seemed to go pretty well for most of the Canadians, though I'd have to say that a few of us faced problems against Sri Lankan teams. They are not seeded generally and have few tournaments, but they play pretty well and if you don't take them seriously, you could definitely be looking at an upset. Stephan and Phyllis lost to Sri Lankans in their respective Singles event, while Derrick/Adrian (MD) and me/Grace (XD) had close games with the MD winning a close 2 set match, and mine in a closer 3 set match. However, for the WD, the Japanese teams posed the greatest difficulty for the Canadians, and all 3 teams lost to the Japanese. They were quite strong and placed first and second in the event. If you're wondering about Michelle's walkover loss in Maldives, it was caused by a series of unfortunate events. Michelle and Alex came to the tournament late and couldn't attend the manager's meeting (there is no manager for Canada so you would have to go on our own). The schedule that was distributed at the hotel said that the semifinals would begin at 4pm, but it was verbally changed at the manager's meeting to 3pm due to TV requirements (yes, the tournament was actually filmed for the semis and finals). Basically, she thought the semis began at 4pm as it was written in the schedule, so by the time she got there, she was too late and got defaulted. She was also unlucky because of the match order, where she might have made it if they played MS first after the XD. I think Eric Pang (NED) in the MS semifinal was in the same boat, as he pretty much showed up late because he didn't know of the changes and barely made his match. Fortunately we called Alex Bruce to come earlier so Michelle and Alex were okay for the WD. Jurgen Koch and Peter Zauner (AUT) also showed up 5 minutes before their match as well. And of course I personally feel terrible because I attended the meeting, and Derrick and I even had dinner at the hotel with Alex and Michelle the night before but it totally slipped my mind and the topic never came up... unfortunately, the tournament scheduling or draws were not posted on the internet either until after the matches were played for that day. That would have meant that you would only know about the changes if you went to the manager's meeting, checked on the board at the tournament on the night of the QFs (I'm PRETTY sure it wasn't updated until the day of the QFs), or heard from someone else. I do feel somewhat responsible as I attended the meeting and told the other players on that day, but since Alex and Michelle arrived the day after, I forgot to pass the message to everyone, so I'm definitely very sorry for that. Though there's not much we could have done or could do now, at least we will all learn from this lesson. It's a shame cuz Michelle would have very likely made it into the finals too! I'm so sorry Michelle! >___< (You'll get the next one!)

To a brighter day... =)

On the brighter side (pun intended), a lot of us got to go out and sight see on different islands. Michelle and Alex went and stayed a night over somewhere, while Adrian and Joycelyn took a day trip to a different one. Unfortunately for Grace and I, we had to stick around for the finals that day, but we did find out that the tournament would organize a picnic to an island, so that was something to look forward to the next day. The final was pretty shaky, as we had a REALLY bad start (e.g. down 11-2). We were able to get some points back and roughly even things out, but even if you're matching points with your opponents, you won't win if they are up 10 points. However, it continued into the 2nd set (which I was rally hoping for) and we took a small lead at the 2nd set interval. From there we took off and won the next 9 points... giving us game point before we made like 4 mistakes. We were able to finish off the set and forced the 3rd. The 3rd set was a little similar to the 2nd, though we had a greater lead at the interval. We just kept the lead and it slowly expanded until we finally took the match at the end. I felt pretty tired at the end and I'm grateful we were able to pull through before I crashed o__O Though we were the only 3 set match of the evening, I think we were the shortest match regardless =P It was quite a relief to win, and we were able to take a title home for Canada and our 2nd XD title this year!

The goods we get for winning!

The next day, we had our 'picnic'. However, I guess picnic meant lunch buffet provided by the people at the tournament hotel, but just outside on the small island we were in... SWEET! We left fairly early in the morning and we all took a boat over to the island, about a 30 minute ride. It was a very small island as you could walk around it in about 15 minutes, but it was kind of cozy and there was a fair amount of stuff to do. We were greeted with a coconut each, and though it was a little warm, it was cool to drink from a coconut. The sand was white and the water was a very light blue. We spent most of the day there and headed back in the evening. I won't bore you with the details, just check the 15 minute HD (720) video that I took =)

Boat ride to the island for the picnic
Tent where we had our picnic
Another island nearby our island
The corner of our island!

That would pretty much mark the end of our trip. We would head off to Singapore the next day though we would arrive at 6:00am Tuesday. Thanks for checking out my blog and be sure to tune in next time for Singapore!

Full Draws: []
(NOTE: These draws were unavailable during the tournament and the BWF published the draws afterwards because they use TournamentSoftware for World Rankings)

Matches (via YouTube):
XD QF: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Murat Sen/Neslihan Yigit [TUR]
Game 1
Game 2

WD QF: Miki Komori/Nao Miyoshi [JPN] vs. Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

XD SF: Arun Vishnu/Aparna Balan [IND] vs. Adrian Liu/Joycelyn Ko [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

XD SF: (incomplete) Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Lasitha Menaka Karunathilaka/Renu Chandrika Hettiarachchige [SRI]
Game 3

WD SF: (incomplete) Miki Komori/Nao Miyoshi [JPN] vs. Alex Bruce/Michelle Li [CAN]
Game 1

MD SF: Jurgen Koch/Peter Zauner [AUT] vs. Adrian Liu/Derrick Ng [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD F: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Arun Vishnu/Aparna Balan [IND]
Game 1
Game 2

Game 3

Miscellaneous Videos (via YouTube):
- Boat Ride to Island Picnic (HD 720)

- Walking Around the Island (HD 720)

To be continued... 2011 Singapore Super Series (Part II of Asia Tour)

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