Monday, March 5, 2012

2012 TUC Pan Am Prelims

The 2012 Thomas/Uber Cup Pan American Preliminaries was held on February 17-19th at the Los Angeles Badminton Club in El Monte, California. This has probably been the first team event for Canada since the Sudirman Cup in May 2011, but this time we have both a men's and women's team, so we had much more players. Unfortunately the team came at different times in the week, so we probably only had one coordinated practice. Here is the team roster for the Canadian team, with their rankings:

Thomas Cup
- Joseph Rogers (MS = 293)
- Sergiy Shatenko (MS = 336)
- Nyl Yakura (MS = 443)
- Derrick Ng (MD = 29)
- Adrian Liu (MD = 29)
- Francois Bourret (MD = 96)
- Kevin Li (MD = 96)
- Toby Ng (MS = 287; MD = 205; XD = 29)

Coach: Jeff White

Uber Cup
- Michelle Li (WS = 24, WD = 28)
- Joycelyn Ko (WS = 79, WD = 39, XD = 39)
- Phyllis Chan (WS = 129, WD = 208)
- Christin Tsai (WS = 376, WD = 208, WS Jr. = 29)
- Grace Gao (WD = 39, XD = 29)
- Alex Bruce (WD = 28)

Coach: Ram Nayyar

(Rankings taken: February 16, 2012. Mixed Rankings available for players with higher rankings)

I've attached the rosters based on rank with the Singles players first, followed by the doubles players. Although both coaches helped out on both teams, if the Canadian teams were on at the same time, then they would split off accordingly.

Uber Cup meeting after practice

We began play on the Friday, playing in pools of 4 for the Thomas Cup and a single round-robin pool of 5 teams for the Uber Cup. As there were 8 countries for the Thomas Cup, so we were split into 2 pools. Brazil was the first seed, followed by the US, then 3/4 seeds went to Guatemala and Canada. Seedings were based by team world rankings, so because we didn't have any high ranked singles players, we were seeded pretty low. Fortunately, we had Brazil in our pool, along with Barbados and Suriname. The Uber Cup team simply had pool play with every team once, with a Canada vs. USA for Sunday. With pool play, we play all 5 matches (3 singles, 2 Doubles), whereas knockout play (Semis and Finals for Thomas Cup) would be first to 3 matches. We came out in our pool as the top team, as we beat Brazil 3-2 in pool play, while USA came out 2nd, as they lost to Guatemala, so we would have to play the USA in the Thomas Cup semifinals. The Uber Cup team was doing well and would play the also undefeated USA team for the Pan American Uber Cup Finals spot, to be held in Wuhan, China in May 2012.

Lunch at Ray Ray's, attached to the LABC

Joseph Rogers testing shuttles
The semifinals were played Sunday morning for the Thomas Cup Semifinals. The match up for the morning was:

1st MS: Sattawat Pongnairat [USA] vs. Joseph Rogers [CAN]
2nd MD: Howard Bach/Phillip Chew [USA] vs. Adrian Liu/Toby Ng [CAN]
2nd MS: Howard Shu [USA] vs. Sergiy Shatenko [CAN]
1st MD: Tony Gunawan/Sattawat Pongnairat [USA] vs. Kevin Li/Derrick Ng [CAN]
3rd MS: Nicholas Jinadasa [USA] vs. Nyl Yakura [CAN]

From the looks of the match ups, we were quite at a disadvantage because any combination we tried would be a lower overall ranking than our USA opponents. Regardless, that didn't stop us from trying, but we were at a disadvantage because we did not have any of our Canadian National Team Men's Singles players. We lost our first Men's Singles in straight sets and up next, oddly, was 2nd MD. From the match up listed above, it was rather odd that they did not use: MS 1,2,3, then any combination of the MD because Sattawat was the only one who played twice. So up next was Adrian and I, even though we were anticipating on playing last or second-last. It was a tough game, as it was pretty much a 'must win' game. The only way to win was probably to win 2 singles and 1 doubles, as it would be incredibly tough to beat Tony in Doubles. However, it didn't work out and we lost to Howard and Phillip in straight sets as well. Sergiy was playing last, but with a 2-0 deficit and a very "iffy" line call in the 2nd set of Sergiy's match, we lost to the USA in straight sets. On the other side of the semifinals, Guatemala played and also won in straight matches, as they played all 3 MS first. Why was their order different? I really don't know...

Unfortunately we had to play a 3/4 playoff against Brazil again, but we mixed our lineup and put Sergiy, Nyl, and Derrick in Singles (1, 2, 3 MS respectively), then Kevin/Frank and Adrian/I in 1st & 2nd MD. We played the same time as the Uber Cup Finals, so most of us just ended up cheering for our Uber Cup team instead. The Thomas Cup 3/4 playoff went really well for us, with us winning 3 straight, with Sergiy, Nyl, and Kevin/Frank taking their respective matches right away. The Thomas Cup finals was also interesting, as USA turned things around and took 3 straight matches (2nd MD, 2nd MS, and 3rd MS) after losing their 1st MS.

2012 Thomas Cup Canadian Team - Pan Am 3rd Place
The Uber Cup match up between Canada and USA was:

1st WS: Michelle Li [CAN] vs. Rena Wang [USA]
2nd WS: Joycelyn Ko [CAN] vs. Iris Wang [USA]
3rd WS: Christin Tsai [CAN] vs. Jamie Subandhi [USA]
1st WD: Michelle Li/Alex Bruce [CAN] vs. Eva Lee/Paula Obanana [USA]
2nd WD: Joycelyn Ko/Grace Gao [CAN] vs. Rena Wang/Jamie Subandhi [USA]

Our Uber Cup team was stronger than the USA team in probably all of the events, but not nearly as significantly as the USA Thomas Cup team to the Canadian one (i.e. difference of ranking of about 10-20 spots, vs. 100 spots). Rena and Iris Wang are actually the top USA team at the time of the tournament, but by splitting the team, they strategically put Eva Lee/Paula Obanana as the 1st WS. Rena/Iris have lost the past few encounters against Alex/Michelle, while Eva/Paula are a lot closer in their match ups. Michelle did well to give Canada a 1-0 lead by defeating Rena in a close 2 sets, but Iris came back to tie it at 1-1 with an upset against Joycelyn. Christin was up next, and though she lost the 1st set against Jamie, she fought back and took the 2nd and breezed through the 3rd set to bring Canada back to 2-1. The most intense match up of the Uber Cup would have to be the 1st WD, with Alex/Michelle losing a close 1st set, and coming back to take a closer 2nd set. The final set was the most intense, with it going into set points. It went back and forth a few times with the USA scooping up a fluke defensive shot which won them the match to tie it at 2-2. The final match to determine the Uber Cup Pan Am winners was quite one sided unfortunately, as Joycelyn very much struggled to recuperate from her WS loss earlier. Also, it seemed as though the playing style of the American team was well suited against our Canadian team, as they were a very defensive team. Canada lost the final match, with the Americans winning both Thomas and Uber Cup Pan American spots and will represent Pan America at the Thomas/Uber Cup finals in China.

Uber Cup Finals: USA (left) vs. CAN (right)
Thomas Cup Finals: GUA (left) vs. USA (right)
Canadians cheering on their fellow teammates!
UC Final: WS #1
Jeff White coaching Alex/Michelle (WD #1)
UC Final: WD #2
2012 Uber Cup Canadian Team: Pan Am 2nd Place
Despite some misfortune, both teams performed pretty well with most of the Olympic track players getting much needed points and the upcoming juniors getting some good experience. Though I feel some things should have been done a little differently, it would not be fair to criticize in hindsight. If things should have been done differently, we should have spoken up earlier to be fair. However, I hope we can learn from our mistakes from this tournament and hopefully send a stronger team to the next Thomas/Uber Cup in 2014, because honestly, I think it's quite disappointing that I could have played #1 MS as I actually held the highest World Ranking (see ranking list at top).

Full Results via Tournament Software: [2012 TUC Pan Am Preliminary]

Matches via YouTube: [Channel: towbsss]

(Thomas Cup - Pool) Canada vs. Brazil
1st MS: Joseph ROGERS [CAN] vs. Daniel Paiola [BRA]
Full Match

2nd MS:
Sergiy SHATENKO [CAN] vs. Alex TJONG [BRA]
Game 1
Game 2 (Pt 1)

Game 2 (Pt 2)

3rd MS:
Nyl YAKURA [CAN] vs. Luiz Dos SANTOS [BRA]
Game 1 (Pt 1)
Game 1 (Pt 2)
Game 2 (Pt 1)
Game 2 (Pt 2)

2nd MD:
Francois BOURRET/Kevin LI [CAN] vs. Hugo ARTHUSO/Alex TJONG [BRA]
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

1st MD:
Adrian LIU/Derrick NG [CAN] vs. Daniel PAIOLA/Luiz Dos SANTOS [BRA]
Full Match

(Thomas Cup - Semi Finals) USA vs. Canada
1st MS: Sattawat PONGNAIRAT [USA] vs. Joseph ROGERS [CAN]
Full Match

2nd MD:
Howard BACH/Phillip CHEW [USA] vs. Adrian LIU/Toby NG [CAN]
Full Match

2nd MS:
Howard SHU [USA] vs. Sergiy SHATENKO [CAN]
Full Match

(Uber Cup - Finals) USA vs. Canada
1st WS: Rena WANG [USA] vs. Michelle LI [CAN]
Full Match

2nd WS:
 Iris WANG [USA] vs. Joycelyn KO [CAN]
Full Match

3rd WS:
Jamie SUBANDHI [USA] vs. Christin TSAI [CAN]
Full Match

1st WD:
Eva LEE/Paula OBANANA [USA] vs. Alex BRUCE/Michelle LI [CAN]
Full Match

2nd WD:
Rena WANG/Jamie SUBANDHI [USA] vs. Joycelyn KO/Grace GAO [CAN]
Full Match

That's it for this tournament! Thanks for visiting :) Until next time then... German Open 2012!

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