Badminton is a deceptive game. The hardest smash travels faster than the hardest tennis serve, but the bird slows more quickly. Advanced players can make the bird spin, dip and tumble to confuse their opponent. Learning the game is also much harder than it looks.
“A lot of people think it’s easy, but it’s definitely not,” said Mel Blake.
Blake is representing Elmira District Secondary School at CWOSSAA this week, after advancing from last week’s WCSSAA competition. At WCSSAA, she won six matches and lost two to finish fourth in her category. Blake was the only member of the badminton team to make it to CWOSSAA.
A five-sport athlete, Blake took up badminton because it filled the gap between volleyball and track. All the sports she does, including baseball, basketball and javelin, involve upper body strength, but that didn’t mean it was easy to pick up badminton.
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Blake joined the badminton team four years ago, and this is the first year she’s had any kind of success. She started out playing mixed doubles, but switched to singles in her second year.
“I like the fast pace in singles and just the skill level you have to have,” she said.
Training this week in advance of CWOSSAA, badminton coach Mark Carlin had her practicing footwork and covering the entire court.
“She’s a very strong hitter,” Carlin said. “She can hit the bird from one end of the court to the other very easily.”
“I have to work on drop shots; I usually get them smashed back in my face,” Blake said.
EDSS sent 21 players to WCSSAA; a full squad of 16 seniors and only five juniors. The senior boys’ doubles team of Brendon Martin and Justin Raimbault were the school’s other big hope, but they came up just one match short of advancing.