The OCAA badminton team was assembled in October and spent the past few months practising twice a week in Gym C, competing in three OCAA invitational tournaments leading up to the OCAA West regional tournament at Humber.

In The Medium’s profile on head coach Lam Trinh, conducted in early January, Trinh noted that this year’s competition was possibly the highest level he has seen in his career at the OCAA level. Trinh’s decorated career as a player and coach spans more than a decade, and despite the outstanding record he had with the Humber Hawks, he admitted to having some reservations in terms of the Eagles finding immediate success against OCAA competition.

Unfortunately for UTM, Trinh was right.

“We didn’t perform as well as we hoped,” said Trinh after his team competed in the OCAA qualifying tournament in early February.

The team participated in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles events and finished an average of fifth and seventh at the bottom of both men’s and women’s scoring.

The west regionals are a qualifying tournament where the top three teams move on to the provincial championship, which are played at Fanshawe College in London.

Although Trinh hoped for different results, he was proud of his team. “Everyone has been working hard in preparation for regionals,” he says. “Unfortunately, some of our athletes still lack experience and are not mentally prepared.”

Trinh understands what is needed in order to play at the championship level and notes that the pressure and competitiveness of a provincial championship is very different from that of a qualifier.

Jenny Chou, a third-year student majoring in English and psychology, was proud of how she and her teammates performed and says the progress her team has made in their first year of OCAA competition is an achievement in itself.

“Everyone fought their hardest,” says Chou. “The rankings were tight; games were going to tie-breakers. My teammates were beating opponents they lost to only months ago. Next year will be an exciting year.”

Chou felt that the practices leading up to regionals were helpful for physical and mental preparation, and echoes her coach’s sentiment of playing for experience.

David Zheng was also satisfied with how his team played and was not surprised by the result. He admits that the competition was tough, and notes that for many of his teammates this was their first foray into a high-intensity playing environment.

But the progress he’s seen from his team over the few short months they’ve been together has given him the hope of a bright future for UTM badminton.

“There is work to be done, but we will get there,” says the fourth-year geography and psychology major. “All we can do now is train hard and prepare for the next season.”