Focused on nationals
By Blaine Meller
Two of Mount Royal’s top badminton players are in the mix to become national champions.
Matt Chan and Greg Buckley captured a silver medal in men’s doubles at the ACAC Championships, staged here at Mount Royal Feb. 12-13. Chan also captured a silver medal in men’s singles.
In doing so, Chan and Buckley have qualified for the CCAA National Championships at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., March 3-5.
It’s been an extraordinary year for Chan, who in five tournaments this season has two gold- and three silver-medal performances in singles competition alone. Chan and Buckley had previously teamed this season and compiled three fourth-place finishes.
“I’ve been playing badminton for close to eight years and I think my experience does give me a bit of an advantage,” said Chan. “I know how to modify my game when I need to.”
Chan said that individually, he and Buckley play different styles of badminton. Chan referred to his game as controlled and reactionary, while Buckley is an aggressive player. The contrast in styles makes it difficult for their opponents to focus on only one of them.
“Greg likes to hit some faster shots and be aggressive, and I like to slow it down. If our opponents are hitting to Greg a lot, it gives me a chance to see what their tendencies are. I think that helps us a lot,” said Chan.
Both the gold and silver medal winners in each division — men’s and women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles — qualify for the national championships. However, each competitor is allowed to compete in only one event.
Chan said the decision to focus on men’s doubles was primarily his.
“The player I lost to in singles (Kai Dan of NAIT) is a really strong player, and I thought my chances of winning would be better on men’s doubles,” he said. “I’m happy to be getting this opportunity along with my teammate.”
This will be Chan’s first trip to nationals, and as such, he’s tempered his expectations.
“As a first-year player, I don’t really know the competition from the other provincial associations. But if things don’t work out that we win a medal, it’s a matter of taking the experience and coming back strong next season,” said Chan.
In other Cougars’ results, Hailey Coakley placed fourth in women’s singles and Keenan Ince and Ashley Dixon finished fourth in mixed doubles.
In the team competition, NAIT won its third consecutive title.