This article was originally published on Toby Ng's website.
The 2015 Yonex Canadian Nationals have ended. We have a couple of new National Champions, but the former champs in the Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, and Women’s Doubles continued their streak. Congratulations to all who won, but I would like to extend my congratulations to all who broke through a personal best. I always think a big victory is a combination of smaller victories put together over time, so congrats to those who made a personal achievement. For those who didn't feel like the tournament went the way they hoped, I encourage you to keep trying. I've had good wins and bad losses, but you will never get a chance to do better if you give up. If you want to simplify things, it’s only another tournament. Don’t let a bad tournament define your overall career. Worse, don’t take a bad loss personally.
I decided to come a week earlier to train with Alex under Andrew Dabeka’s guidance at the RA Centre in Ottawa. They have a very good program and Andrew was working extremely hard all week, even adding in extra sessions to accommodate the wide variety of schedules that the players had, as some were in school, and some were not. Despite some colder weather than usual and 6:30am practices, I somehow survived the week of training, quite different from my routine training schedule in Vancouver. It takes a lot of discipline to make it out that early for practice, but it really shows in the mental toughness of the RA players. I’m not certain that I would be able to consistently follow that type of training schedule, but I have a few hacks to even the odds. Of course I can’t tell you because you have to go through some 6:30am practices first!
I would like to thank Kyle Hunter for letting me stay at his house for the week before moving to the tournament hotel. I also appreciate the rides to and from the airport, and it was nice to have everyone over to watch the Superbowl, starring Katy Perry, Left Shark, and… I went to bed before the end of the game. Morning training… yeesh! I would also like to thank all those training at the RA for working with me. Sometimes they had to come and feed me and Alex drills and I greatly appreciate their help.
After moving to the tournament hotel, it was a long walk to the venue, only because of the weather conditions. Fortunately, I only had to walk once, on apparently the nicest day of the week. A big thank you to Kevin Li for driving me around even though we had to play each other twice this tournament (finished 1 win/loss each, so we're tied), and also Alex for picking me up from the hotel as well.
It was difficult for me to get into a positive arousal level at this tournament, as we are one of the top contenders in the event this week, despite the 3/4 seeding. There were many times I was frustrated because it felt hard to pump myself up to play my best. For those of you who lift weights, it felt like having to lift a submaximal weight that wasn’t challenging at all. However, there were times I underestimated my opponents, and that put us in a bad place for a moment. The challenge then re-emerged, and I was fortunate to have things work out in the end.
There is a huge difference when you compare international competition to the Canadian Nationals. Internationally, I take it as a challenge to beat teams I've never played or beaten before. Perhaps it's similar to hockey. National badminton is like playing teams you've played before, hence similar to NHL playoff hockey: you keep playing the same team and you start figuring out certain tactics and trends that are team specific. When you only have one chance to beat your opponents, like international competition, you have to be good overall and adapt quickly. When you have multiple attempts, you can tinker with things a bit more. Winning every encounter is nice, but often it’s a rare feat especially if you keep playing the same team that is adapting with every encounter you have.
A very special mention needs to go to the tournament physiotherapist, Anick Viau, for helping me take care of my left calf. My body has been pretty good overall except a nagging left calf which was incredibly tight for most of the week (hence the calf sleeve if you see any pictures or videos of my matches). Without her help, I’m not sure if I could have played very well or I might have even put myself at a greater risk of injury. My calf is recovering well at the moment and hope to get things under control for the All England Super Series Premier next month!
For my last words, I would like to thank all those who ran the tournament and made it another successful Senior Nationals. There are problems still, and maybe there always will be, but I want to commend the efforts of everyone who did their best to make it happen. My new mantra is, “Progress, not perfection,” and things appear to be on the right track. I can see how being negative can be damaging to the efforts of all those who are doing their best, and we often have to look at the bigger picture. Choose your battles (another great piece of advice given to me recently). To close, I would like to congratulate my teammates from ClearOne Badminton, Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng, for their 5th Men’s Doubles title in a row. Special thanks to all those back home who played a role in helping us train and win another 2 National titles forClearOne! If you want Doubles or Mixed lessons, you know where to go!
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