Rigorous training pays off

Badminton team captures OUA banner

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western badminton

When most people think of badminton, they think of a friendly backyard game. While the members of Western’s badminton team are certainly friendly, their style of play could more aptly be described as fierce.

In fact, their skills on the court are so solid that the team recently beat out the Waterloo Warriors 8-5 en route to its third consecutive Ontario University Athletics title.

But the Warriors weren’t the first school the badminton squad had to face before clinching OUA gold.

“In our semi-final, we were playing Ryerson [University],” Calgary native Pauline Sceviour said. “We knew that we’d beaten them pretty easily before. We just had to make sure we were on top of our game. We used [the game] to practise our shots and get used to the gym.”

The team clearly didn’t need much practise, as it beat the Rams handily, by a score of 12-1.

Next up was the championship match against the Warriors, but playing for the provincial title did little to faze the Purple and Silver.

“Going into the final we weren’t quite sure who we were playing at first, but later we found out it was Waterloo, who we’d played before,” Sceviour said. “We knew we had the upper hand.”

Much of Western’s swagger comes from its intense training regime under head coach Rob Fowler.

“In practice, it is intense,” transfer student Laura Vandervet said. “Everybody is pushing each other to really do well, so there is no slacking off. In terms of intensity, this team is a lot more intense than anything I have ever experienced at McMaster, [where I previously played].”

With this rigorous training came a sense the team could do anything, said Thornhill native Han Phang.

“We were very fit because of our training,” he said. “We knew that we could dominate in all events.

“We focused a lot on the fitness aspect of the badminton game, because we knew we had the technique and footwork. We just needed to maintain our fitness in order to compete at the championship level.”

In addition to being in top physical condition, Western’s badminton squad also boasts a roster full of athletes with plenty of badminton experience at an elite level.

“On our starting lineup, pretty much everyone has played nationally or at least provincially,” said Jenn Lam, who has several OUA achievement awards to her name.

Lam added an experienced roster like Western allows the badminton program to easily recruit more talented individuals.

“I think we just have a lot of very experienced players. In a way, it attracts other players to come too,” she said.

“I can’t say that we really recruit players, but I think having a strong team does help people who want to play throughout university decide to come to Western.”

This year’s OUA MVP Hoong Phang said his squad has no trouble finding motivation.

“Our intensity is drawn from within the team itself,” he said. “Everyone pushes each other that extra step. Because we are also very experienced, we know that anything can happen during game time. So that’s what keeps us focused: each other.”

The squad’s strong chemistry also contributes to its intensity during both competition and practice.

“I think a lot of people knew each other from before, from badminton outside of school, rookie Toshiro Sembro said, but I also think the team has really bonded well throughout the season. I’m really glad to be a part of it.”

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