Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011 Hong Kong Super Series

The month long Asian tour began on a Tuesday, flying to Incheon-Seoul, Korea from Vancouver, Canada. Everything went well until AFTER security, oddly enough, where I was pestered by questions from two customs officers. I'm not sure how they're trained, but they do ask a lot of questions. I mean, they were asking about how I booked my ticket, how I can afford to travel, and apparently they were entering a very touchy subject with my funding issues, so very soon my answers were getting quite snappy. In the end, they asked if I was transporting drugs, so... I don't know what the point of that was. Think of how you'd feel if someone asked you what your occupation is, then asked if you were transporting illegal narcotics, then just sent you along on your way. Talk about a massive power trip but maybe it was my fault because for once, I didn't wear anything badminton clothing. It's probably been the first time in a long time, so maybe I did look like a drug dealer (minus the Tokidoki hat). Anyway, the greatest revenge was walking by them and going into the Air Canada lounge :)

Well done Air Canada! :)
The flight was pretty good overall, as I got upgraded! I had the tenderloin for lunch and it was actually done very well! The dessert wasn't so great, but it was overall a pretty good experience, especially when I saw that they had the 2011 Sudirman Cup video on the TV selection! Way to go Air Canada! :) I naturally watched the whole thing, trying to find shots of any of the Canadian players and I was able to stumble of a few of them. Too bad I didn't go :P

Adrian Liu & Derrick Ng (MD) in the background
Alex Bruce (WD)
Dinner :)
Adrian Liu & Joycelyn Ko (XD)
We arrived in Korea pretty soon after and we had to take a 3.5 hour bus to Iksan, the city that Kim Dong Moon is living in. He met us there with his friend and we got a ride into town. We had a brief instant noodle and kimbab (Korean sushi) dinner before checking into the hotel for the night. The next few days, we trained at the Won Kwang University, playing the odd game with some of the players here and there. We didn't do too much aside from the training, though we did get a chance to visit a Korean Yonex store and bought some odd trinkets here and there.

Korea Motel
45 000 KRW ~ $40 USD/night
All to myself :)
Joyce's lunch (tonkatsu)
Before we knew it, he had to fly to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, a 10am flight meant we had to leave at like 4:10am to get to the bus depot to take a 5:00am bus to get to the airport by about 8:00am. We checked in without too much difficulty and went to find some food. Unfortunately, Joyce and I lost track of Kim and Grace, as they went to return a rental cellphone, so we went to the gate first, but stopped for lunch. I had a traditional Korean 'bibimbap' with beef, while Joyce tried for something non-spicy, like Vietnamese beef noodles. Unfortunately, her noodles were a little spicy because they used quite a bit of white pepper in the soup base, so she went to buy some chicken strips, which, oddly enough were also spicy :P But I think her one misadventure has now increased her spice tolerance (from zero to... not zero) which will definitely help because spicy food is awesome ;)

Korean Bibimbab

Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong after about 4 hours and were picked up by Grace's family friend, while Joyce was picked up by Adrian. We went our separate ways for a bit, but we had to go to a practice a couple hours after. Fortunately we got a ride to the tournament hotel to get on the shuttle, but we had to take the MTR (train/subway) back to the hotel. We would have stayed in the tournament hotel, but they ran out of rooms at the special rate because we booked a little too late. However, taking the MTR back wasn't too much of a problem because Alex Bruce was staying at our hotel as well and she pretty much led the way back :) The next day Alex and I went early for practice at the main venue (Hong Kong Coliseum) and met most of the others there. We had one of the practice courts and then an hour on the main court. The lights were a little too bright in certain spots, but when we were playing, there was only little wind/drift/draft. We had one more practice in the evening but left a little early to grab some dinner.

McDonald's Taro Pie
Hong Kong Coliseum (featuring M.Li/A.Bruce on Right)
uesday was qualifying day so I had to play MS Qualifications. I entered just to get some more time on the Main Court and it was sort of a long shot, but somehow I squeezed in. Unfortunately, I played an Indian player who was the 1st seed in the Qualifying draw and I was really really hoping he would get promoted, but nobody withdrew, so I was stuck :P Obviously from the scores I did quite poorly and I did play quite poorly because THERE WAS A DRAFT! I really hate it when playing conditions change on you, but that's the way it is I guess. Since I was playing on the end court, I suffered a massive diagonal draft which pretty much killed me the whole game. I hit many shots out the back when I was on the fast side, while I was unable to defend any smashes that went into the draft on the slow side. So in case you don't quite understand my situation, my opponent smashes into the draft, giving it additional speed as it goes with the wind. Because it's a diagonal draft, if I block straight, it's easy for it to drift out the side. If I try to lift or block cross-court, it will slow down because it's against the wind. So if I don't make any adjustments to the way I defend the shot (i.e. defend like I normally do, without wind considerations), then I will make an easy mistake. Generally, my opponent just smashed it into the draft and ran straight in to look for a weak return. Anyway, that mess was over and done with soon enough, but the best thing about the match was that I had the chance to talk to one of India's top coaches and former player, Pulella Gopichand! He came over to Canada for a National Team camp in 2009 actually, so we had briefly met before. I asked him for any tips to play in the wind, so he suggested to me that I always have to remember that the wind exists and I always need to make adjustments instead of trying to play the same way I do without wind. He said it was better to just accept it and try to work with it instead of against it. He also said mis-hitting shots and not always getting the right timing is natural, but just accept it and prepare to continue in that way. Some good advice and I was hoping to apply some to my Mixed, but that'll be for a later paragraph...

Adrian & Joycelyn vs. Ko SH/Eom HW [KOR]
I went to a practice in the afternoon with most of the others and after we finished, it was about time for the welcoming dinner hosted by the tournament. It was actually a traditional Chinese dinner which was very good! We had some entertainment too, as we had a 4 or 5 person marching band that played a medley of songs, from the Rocky theme song (Eye of the Tiger) to Justin Bieber (yuck!) to Lady Gaga (also yuck!) :P We also had a costume/mask changing person which was pretty cool, and we had Wong Wing Ki from Hong Kong play piano for us, and some of the other Hong Kong players did some karaoke at the end. All in all it was a decent dinner and we would have to get ready for matches the next day.

We had a few promotions from the WS, with Joycelyn promoted to play against Wang Yihan [CHN] and Charmaine Reid playing Wang Shixian [CHN], the number one and two seeds respectively of the tournament. They played earlier in the morning, too early for me to go watch, but I made it down later for Michelle's singles against Chinese Taipei. It was a good thing I made it down because I was able to film the first Canadian Super Series win outside of Women's Doubles for quite some time now! The only reason I don't really consider a Women's Doubles win is because it's usually either a win by walkover, or there is no qualifying teams in the draw, leading to easier first round matches. If I offend anyone, I apologize, but I do have my own system. Besides, why not give Michelle the credit, as she is really showing improvement over the past while :) Unfortunately, that happened to be the only win for the day, as Grace and I fell to Fischer/Pedersen [DEN] in the XD, Adrian/Derrick and Michelle/Alex fell to Japan in their respective events, and Joycelyn/Grace lost a 3 gamer to the top Hong Kong WD team. We all had pretty tough rounds, facing teams seeded significantly higher than us most of the time, but I hope we were able to get a good learning experience. With my Mixed, it was very difficult to get into a game as Denmark kept constant pressure right off the first 3 shots (serve, serve return, 3rd shot), never allowing us to get into a good rhythm at all. Rallies were short and scrappy, with us making a lot of quick mistakes. Because of a lack of rhythm, we ended up trying for the wrong shots sometimes just to try to get back into the game. Their serves are also quite tricky as we lost many points on the serve return.

Hong Kong MTR map
The next day, most of us came out to watch Michelle against Tine Baun [DEN]. Unfortunately, her knee wasn't at its best and she wasn't able play as well as she could have. Still, it wasn't too bad of a match overall and it was a good run for Canada! :) I stayed to watch a few more matches before going out to eat. That was more of less the plan for the rest of the week, just eating around the Hong Kong Coliseum and watching matches. I did have a chance to visit Mong Kok byself for a few hours, but I didn't really buy too much, oddly enough. I guess that there wasn't anything I really NEEDED, so I decided to save money and spend it on something I really wanted or needed instead :P On Friday night, Alex and I went for a personal hot pot at one of the malls (I think CityTalk near Tsuen Wan West MTR Station) because she said she never tried hot pot before! We had a LOT of food and I think she enjoyed it quite thoroughly :)

Michelle Li

Alex Bruce trying hot pot for the 1st time!
Saturday morning was special, as we had the chance to visit the Hong Kong Football Club, courtesy of our new friend Cheung from the forums at! He approached us online and invited us to come play at the facility. Unfortunately, we didn't actually have the right times for practice, but at least Alex and I got a chance to visit anyway to use the fitness center and their massive outdoor heated swimming pool! We had met a few times earlier in the tournament and he was nice enough to treat us to lunch a few times too! We definitely had a good time and we would like to thank you again for your generous hospitality! :)

The outdoor pool at the HKFC
After, we headed to watch the epic Lee Chong Wei vs. Lin Dan semifinal! It's lucky that we went earlier because China decided to default their Men's Doubles, so I'm sure a few people missed part of the game as well. We walked in at about 4-3 in the first game and sat for the rest of the match. Had a late lunch/early dinner afterwards, then went back to watch some more semifinals. Alex and I headed back to the hotel after, as I needed to pack and do laundry as I was heading to China early the next morning...

Anyway, let's leave things at that for now and enjoy whatever footage I was able to take! There are also some photos of some of us taken by Cheung and I will put a link up to those as well :)

Full Results via Tournament Software: [HONG KONG OPEN SUPER SERIES]

Photos via Facebook Pages (Special thanks to Cheung Yu)
  - [Badminton Central] / [2011 Hong Kong Open (I)] / [2011 Hong Kong Open (II)]

Matches via YouTube:
MS Qualifier (R128): Jan FROHLICH [CZE] vs. Andy LAM [CAN] (Additional footage included)
Full Match

WS R32:
Michelle LI [CAN] vs. PAI Hsiao Ma [TPE] (HD)
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

XD R32:
Joachim FISCHER NIELSEN/Christinna PEDERSEN [DEN] vs. Toby NG/Grace GAO [CAN] (Additional footage included after match)

MD R32:
Naoki KAWAMAE/Shoji SATO [JPN] vs. Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

WS R16:
Tine BAUN [DEN] vs. Michelle LI [CAN]
Game 1
Game 2

MD R16: LEE Yong Dae/JUNG Jae Sung [KOR] vs. Rupesh KUMAR/Sanave THOMAS [IND] (HD)
Game 1 (Pt 1)
Game 1 (Pt 2)
Game 2 (Pt 1)
Game 2  (Pt 2)

Thanks for visiting!

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