Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 Alberta Elite Series (Canada)

This past weekend was the first of a few of the Canadian National Elite Series tournaments. Along with the Canadian National Championships in January/February, there are about 4 or 5 Elite Series tournaments each season for National rankings. The first tournament this season was held in Calgary, Alberta, at the Glencoe Club, which will also be the host of the 2012 National Championships as well. Unfortunately, the club policy for badminton is all-white attire, so if you're wondering why all of us are 'matching', that's why.

The tournament featured about 9 of the 12 National Team members, along with a few upcoming young challengers. In addition, there were a few 'imported' players to add to the mix. Overall, the tournament had a few upsets but most of the top teams still made it out on top. I have filmed all the finals, but since the Glencoe does not have very favourable filming locations, I just kept things at Standard Definition for easy uploading. The camera angles are quite rough, but I pretty much did the best I could. Considering I was a part of two finals and filmed everything myself, give me a break! o__O

Full Results: [Tournament Software]

Facebook Fan Pages:
- Toby NG
- Adrian Liu

- Derrick Ng

- Joycelyn Ko

- Christin Tsai

*Province Abbreviations:
- AB = Alberta
- BC = British Columbia
- ON = Ontario

Matches (via YouTube):
XD Final: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [AB] vs. Dan Kai/Sun Yang [AB]
Game 1
Game 2

MS Final:
Jacky Ruan [BC] vs. Alex Pang [AB]
Game 1 (starts after a couple of points)
Game 2

WS Final: Michelle Li [ON] vs. Christin Tsai [AB]
Game 1
Game 2

MD Final: Adrian Liu/Derrick Ng [BC] vs. Toby Ng/Dan Kai [AB]
Game 1
Game 2

WD Final:
Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao [ON/BC] vs. Alex Bruce/Michelle Li [ON]
Game 1
Game 2

Thanks for visiting! Special thanks to all those who came out to watch, Jeff Bell from Badminton Alberta for running a smooth tournament, Jeff White from Badminton Canada for coaching, as well as all the personal coaches who took time away from their golf and sunshine to watch us run around indoors :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2011 World Championships (London)

(Check out some camcorder pictures on my Facebook Fanpage!)

The 2011 BWF World Championships were held this year in London, England, at the Wembley Arena between August 8-12. As the Olympics will also be in London next year and the badminton will probably be in the same venue, this tournament was probably more or less to test out the venue for next year. Overall, I felt the venue was very good. The courts were pretty standard with wood flooring. It felt a lot like the NIA in Birmingham at the All Englands, but I think the lights are a little brighter here. So generally, the courts are really lit up because it contrasts with the darker spectating areas. However I thought the lights were a little too bright at certain places. Nonetheless, it looks like a promising venue for the Olympics next year :)

The Venue: Wembley Arena

The Canadian team arrived between Friday and Sunday consisting of Stephan Wojcikiewicz, David Snider, Charmaine Reid, Michelle Li, Alex Bruce, Joycelyn Ko, Grace Gao, Derrick Ng, Adrian Liu, myself, and National Coaches Jeff White and Ram Nayyar. We had some brief practices in the Main Hall (20 minute blocks for practice) and had to go to an alternate school for more practice times. Unfortunately on Sunday, there was a football (soccer) game that day and it was very crowded with people. The bus couldn't take us to the practice hall because the road was blocked off so we had to go to an alternate one. As Wembley Stadium was nearby, we had to walk in the crowd of people heading to the train station.

Crowd heading to the train station after the football game.

The tournament went pretty well for a few players, and I guess not so great for most of the others. Adrian and Derrick had a big win against Thailand in the MD, while Michelle also had a big win against Susan Hughes from Scotland, but losing a close one to Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong. Michelle and Alex also had a 3 gamer against the Netherlands in WD, but came up a little short in the 3rd set. Interestingly enough, the winner of the match had an instant walkover into the Round of 16, as the Korean WD seeds withdrew because one of the players had an injury. My match in the XD was against the UK team of Chris Adcock (England) and Imogen Bankier (Scotland), who made an incredible run all the way to the finals, defeating seeded teams from Thailand, Japan, China, and Indonesia, before losing to the #1 seeds from China in the final. Our game wasn't the best, as we have played them once in Ireland in 2010, but we did slightly better at that tournament instead. We started trailing near the beginning of the 1st set and never really got into the match. There were some moments in the 2nd set that we were a little closer, but they pulled away after the interval. Imogen was quite difficult to play against, as she is constantly rushing the net, making it tough to play anything to the net. She is also moving constantly and changing her position, so sometimes I was just hitting to the wrong spot. All in all, I felt we could have done a lot better against them, but fortunately, you can see the match for yourselves as it was on the TV court. The tournament was live streamed by the BWF on YouTube, so you can see the match in the link attached below:

2011 WC - R64 - Adcock/Bankier [ENG/SCO] vs. Ng/Gao [CAN]

Heading back after practice...

After the tournament, we just spent most of the days watching the matches. There were some good matches on, even though I left on the day of the QFs. Special recognition goes to Kevin Cordon of Guatemala for making it all the way to the MS quarterfinal before losing to Lee Chong Wei. Other than that, we just ate at nearby places as there was always that riot risk in London. I don't really know the story, but one of the days in Wembley, everything just shut down at 2pm, as the police advised the public that there may be a potential riot in the area. Thank goodness for McDonalds though, cuz that's where I was using the internet most of the time. The hotel had expensive internet with horrible downloading speeds, so it was up to McDonalds (AGAIN!) for free internet and cheap food.

4 GBP Donair/Gyro at a nearby place. Pretty good actually.
Vodka Blue, Piri Piri Chicken Wings, and Instant Noodles. Price: 8 GPB =(

Other than that, that was pretty much my week at World Championships. The final highlight would probably be the 7 hour flight delay of my flight from London Heathrow to Calgary. Fortunately I had Star Alliance Gold and spent most of the time in the lounge. They also had hot dogs, which made it easier to get food because lounges in Canada rarely give actual food (just soup and salad). Also, I was able to upgrade to Business Class (Executive First), so that was pretty nice. Food wasn't too great, but lying down for a short nap is always a plus :)

Smoked Salmon & Salad Appetizer

Duck and Salad Appetizer (Return Flight)

Salmon, Potatoes, and Beans (Main Course)

I have a few of the Canadian players' matches, but I will decide if I upload them or not. Check back later in the week if I decide to, but I will most likely keep them unlisted because the BWF has their own videos. I will check to see if they are already up. If not, I will just upload the non-TV court matches.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 1, 2011

2011 US Grand Prix Gold & Canada Grand Prix

(Visit my Facebook Page!)

As I have been uploading videos and posting on the BadmintonCentral forums constantly these past few weeks, this blog will be a little shorter and less detailed than the others, so I will be combining both US Open and Canada Open together in this posting. I apologize for the lateness of this blog, but we are having a small training camp in Calgary at the Calgary Winter Club with a few athletes from Vancouver coming up, including Adrian Liu, Derrick Ng, and Joycelyn Ko in preparation for World Championships.

Traffic at LAX airport

Anyway, It starts off with myself coaching for Badminton Alberta a week long day-camp for 10-17 year olds at a local community center in Calgary, the week before US Open. On the Thursday though, we had our final arbitration date with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) about our Sport Canada Carding (Funding) appeal. We started a 9am and finished at about 2:30pm, with an hour long break for lunch in between. The next day (Friday), after I finished the camp, I drove to Golden, British Columbia and stopped there for the night on my drive back to Vancouver. The next day, I stopped at Kamloops for lunch, then a brief stop in Chiliwack to buy some local fruit. I made it back into Vancouver early in the evening, completing my 10 hour road trip from Calgary to Vancouver (approx. 1000km of driving).

1000 Calorie Deluxe Big Breakfast at McDonalds :)

The next day, I was pretty much on a plane to Los Angeles for the US Open. I had to qualify in the Mens Doubles with Jon Vandervet, so I had to be there Sunday night at the latest. I was hoping to be promoted, but nonetheless, it was a pretty decent draw regardless. Fortunately, I booked with Super Shuttle online, so I saved a dollar and I got to the hotel in a reasonable time I suppose. I didn't stay at the tournament hotel because we had a cheaper option and we also had a car, so that's why. Otherwise, the tournament hotel (Hilton Suites) is perfectly fine, as I've been there a few times already.

'Dangerously' Spicy Korean Tofu Soup at a Korean restaurant in LA

Qualifying day went pretty well for my Doubles and I was even able to film some matches. Jon and I faced a young Norwegian team (BTW, terrible news from Norway recently o__O) and we won pretty handedly, as I think they were both Singles players looking for an extra event. I spent the rest of the day there watching some of the other matches and we were able to win our 2nd qualifying match as well, even though we faced a power outage right when we hit the interval. Fortunately, that was the end of those power outages, though it was a little annoying to stop for 15 minutes in the middle of the match. Then again, because we stayed warm enough to play afterwards, it played well for us as we got a BIG lead once we resumed our match. Regardless, we won the 2nd match in the Qualifying and came out into the Main Draw against another team from the qualifying! What a great draw :) Actually, turns out the team that would come out of Qualifying 3 defaulted later in the evening due to an injury, so we were promoted to the R16 and would eventually face Japan in the MD!

Michelle and Alex vs. Japan (WD). Coached by Jeff White.

I stayed behind to film Jon's XD match, more or less because I had to play the winner of the match, but unfortunately, they didn't do so well. I searched up the Chinese Mixed Team and found out he was the 2010 World Jr. XD Champ, so that was not so pleasant news, but nonetheless, I prepared the best I could by reviewing the footage from Jon's match. The next day proved quite tiring, as I headed to the hall quite early to catch some of the other matches. Grace and Joycelyn had a WD match to play, but I filmed Michelle's WS match instead. Following the matches, we went back for a bit of rest and dinner before returning to the OCBC later in the evening for our Mixed against China. Overall, the match wasn't too bad, but we were unable to capitalize on key points in the rally. In the end, we were pretty much neck and neck, but lost both sets 21-19, 21-19. There was a controversial call in the 1st set, which may have led to a different outcome as a kill at the net by China went very close to the endline. Unfortunately, the linesman saw it as in, and the umpire probably did not see it, so it was really the difference in us having a 20-17 lead, versus the 18-19 we had to deal with. Regardless, there were a few things to work on but it was great to have Kim Dong Moon and Jeff White coaching us, as we normally don't get anyone behind our court.

Joycelyn and Grace vs. China (WD)
The next day, Alex and Michelle played their WD the same time as Jon and my MD, so I tried to get someone to film both courts, as we were side by side. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out so well, but our matches didn't go so well either. The Canadians did what we could, but it was quite limited what we could do against Korea (WD) and Japan (MD). That pretty much was the end of the Canadians at the US Open, but I'm sure we all learned our lessons and hopefully we can learn from them, hopefully before next week at the Canada Open if possible :P

Michelle vs. Hong Kong (WS)

For the rest of the week, we trained really early in the morning and watched matches in the afternoon. We were able to do a little bit of shopping, but I didn't buy too much. Unfortunately, later in the week, Grace and I found out our Carding/funding from Badminton Canada was declined. I have blogged about it the previous blog post, so please check it out here if you are interested. Long story short, I wasn't very happy and I'm still pretty bitter about the whole situation. But let's just leave it at that, as I don't want to revive bad memories. I will have the last laugh anyway...

Quarterfinals at the OCBC

That's pretty much the last of the 2011 US Open, as I flew back on Saturday night and missed the finals, but that would give an extra day to prepare for the Canada Open. This time, the venue was set up much earlier in advance and that really helped the Canadians prepare better. There were some tough draws for a lot of players, but some had easier ones and were able to capitalize on their good fortune. I had the privilege to be interviewed by CBC Radio - Early Edition along with my brother, along with a Chinese newspaper. Further in the tournament I was also interviewed briefly by CBC Canada and by Don Hearn from Badzine. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed by everyone and I would also like to thank all those people who took their time to come watch me and the other Canadians play. We don't get to do it much, but we do appreciate the home support!

Drink selection at McDonalds in the US

In terms of the tournament itself, my Men's Doubles with Jon was a pretty quick match as we were playing the recently 2011 US Open MD champions, Lee Yong Dae & Ko Sung Hyun of South Korea. It was an incredibly tough game, as we couldn't do very much off their serves. Their serves were good and they were very fast on the 3rd shot (replying our serve returns) and they won many many rallies on the "first 3 shots"** alone. If we did get into a rally, we were either struggling to defend, or had a tough time attack and getting through their defense. However, we were prepared to smash for as long as we could, as it would take tremendous effort to earn a single point, but hey, of course we had to because they are a very strong team. In the end, once they had matchpoint, we apparently got a string of 8 points in a row, but I would definitely credit it to them going a little easier on us and us keeping up the attack the best we could. Ultimately, it was a fun game and I was happy to get a chance to play the now 2011 US AND Canada Open MD Champions :)

Score sheet at Canada Open vs. Lee/Ko [KOR] in MD

Most of the other Canadians had tougher draws, like Derrick and Adrian who had to meet a Chinese Taipei seed again. Unfortunately, they were still unable to beat them. Most of the MS & WS players had tough draws as well, except our top Canadian Singles players in their respective events. Stephan did quite well, but lost a close one to rising Guatemalan star, Kevin Cordon, while Michelle had a smooth time making it into the Quarterfinals against Pi Hongyan from France. Michelle took Pi to 3 games, but was unable to win in the end. However she is showing a lot of promise, so keep track of her, as she is definitely one of Canada's potential star players! :) Michelle also made the quarterfinals in WD with partner Alex Bruce. It was definitely an interesting draw in the WD, as Grace/Joycelyn were up against Paul Obanana/Eva Lee of the USA in the Round of 32, with the winners facing Alex/Michelle in the 16s. As all 3 teams are fighting for the Olympic spot in WD, it was a critical tournament as the team that would come out to play the #1 seeds from Chinese Taipei would still get significant World Ranking points. In the end, Grace/Joycelyn fell to Paula/Eva, but were avenged by Alex/Michelle. Alex/Michelle were actually in an interesting spot, because they had a bye and started in the Round of 16. However, that would mean that they would still only get first round (R32) points if they had lost their match. Unfortunately, though they made it through to the quarterfinals, they had quite a tough match against Chinese Taipei.

Kim vs. China coach in table tennis!

Lastly, for my Mixed with Grace, we had a pretty good draw at first. We played Mexico in the first round and were probably going to play Austria, but their opponents withdrew from the event, and a Chinese Taipei team was promoted into the main draw. However, we pulled off a close first set win and took the 2nd set with less difficulty to make the Quarterfinals. We were set to play the winner between Lee Yong Dae/Ha Jung Eun (KOR) and Liu Cheng/Luo Ying (CHN), with China pulling off a surprise win. The Chinese team happened to be the same team we played at US Open, so we definitely had a good draw! We started off the Quarterfinals pretty well, taking the first set, but I had a lot of trouble adjusting to certain strategy changes. I was unable to capitalize on a lot of backhand midcourt opportunities and we lost the second set. Finally, I was able to adapt the strategy change and we reached the interval down only 11-10. Unfortunately, we lost the first point after the interval change due to a slow net roll which I still curse to this moment now (just kidding :P). That did lead to our downfall though, as we were unable to catch up to the Chinese team and they pulled ahead at the very end to win 21-16. Though it was a tough loss with such an amazing opportunity to make the semifinals, we learned some valuable lessons and I REALLY HOPE to make use of these lessons for World Championships. Hence the late blog post because I am training with some of the other Canadians diligently here in Calgary with Kim Dong Moon for the London World Championships. I am currently writing this at a Starbucks while Adrian and Joycelyn are watching 'Captain America'... such is life :)

Thai Shrimp Pizza at a Sports Bar in a Casino in LA

So that is pretty much it. I know I probably typed a lot, so I apologize if it's a little long for some readers. Before I post a list of my video uploads, I would like to take a brief moment to thank the people who have helped me out these last two weeks. I'd like to thank my partners Grace and Jon for playing, and Kim and Jeff for coaching. It's so nice to have a coach or two behind us and getting their support during the match instead of after it. I'd also like to thank Christina for driving us around and taking us to eat so many times. I'd like to thank the players and fans who came out to cheer us on in both Canada and US Opens and all the support from the people I get from the internet, via Facebook, YouTube, and BadmintonCentral. Special thanks goes to the media sources that I was involved with, especially Don and Yves from Badzine. Thanks to OCBC and ClearOne for hosting such great events and I apologize if I miss anyone. Again, thanks for your support and I will strive to keep doing what I do, and hopefully doing it well ;)

Full Results via TournamentSoftware: [2011 US Open Grand Prix Gold]

Canadian Matches (YouTube):
MD Qualifier R1:
Jon Vandervet/Toby Ng [CAN] vs. Jonas Christensen/Carl Christian Hem [NOR]
Game 1
Game 2

XD Qualifier R2: Liu Cheng/Luo Ying [CHN] vs. Jon Vandervet/Melody Liang [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

MD Qualifier R2: David Pohan/Jimmy Pohan [INA] vs. Phillipe Charron/Phillipe Gaumond [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

WD R32: Alex Bruce/Michelle Li [CAN] vs. Eto Rie/Yu Wakita [JPN]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

WS R32: 
Tse Ying Suet [HKG] vs. Michelle Li [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD R32: Lin Yu Lang/Hsieh Pei Chen [TPE] vs. Derrick Ng/Phyllis Chan [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

XD R32: Liu Cheng/Luo Ying [CHN] vs. Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

WD & MD R16: 
Kim Min Jung/Ha Jung Eun [KOR] vs. Alex Bruce/Michelle Li [CAN] (WD on left) & Noriyasu Hirata/Hirokatsu Hashimoto [JPN] vs. Jon Vandervet/Toby Ng [CAN] (MD on right)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Part 5 (last rally)

For more matches of other countries, please search on my YouTube Channel!

Full Results via TournamentSoftware: [2011 Canada Open]

Canadian Matches (YouTube):
XD R32: Derrick Ng/Phyllis Chan [CAN] vs. Li Gen/Luo Yu [CHN]
Game 1
Game 2

XD R32: Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Andres Lopez/Victoria Montero [MEX]
Game 1
Game 2

MD R32: Ko Sung Hyun/Lee Yong Dae [KOR] vs. Jon Vandervet/Toby Ng [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

MD R32: Hiroyuki Saeki/Ryota Taohata [JPN] vs. Kevin Li/Frank Bourret [CAN]

MD R32: Lin Yu Lang/Chen Hung Ling [TPE] vs. Adrian Liu/Derrick Ng [CAN]
Game 2

WD R16:
Alex Bruce/Michelle Li [CAN] vs. Eva Lee/Paula Obanana [USA]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD QF: Liu Cheng/Luo Ying [CHN] vs. Toby Ng/Grace Gao [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

For more matches of other countries, please search on my YouTube Channel!

Thanks for visiting :)