Three of Springbank Community High School's badminton players competed at the high-school provincial championships in Medicine Hat on May 6 and 7.
The Phoenix senior boys’ doubles team placed fourth in their age and division, while Dena Poulas, a Grade 10 player, finished fifth in the junior singles' female division.
“I used to play pretty competitively and I went to [provincials] and the first couple of games were easy then the next few were harder,” Poulas said. “There were big differences in the levels of the players.”
Poulas added her nerves were solid throughout the competition until her final game on May 7, which was against one of Alberta’s top badminton players.
“I wish I tried a little harder. Sometimes you go in with a cocky mindset when you play some people,” she said.
Fortunately, Poulas will get a few more attempts when she enters grade 11 and 12 in the next two years.
In the meantime she has lots of time to train.
“I cannot wait – I'll try to practice a bit harder before and we'll see if I do any better,” she said.
Despite playing well, according to Springbank badminton coach Josh Denison, Poulas wished to have played a bit better than she did.
Students weren’t able to play badminton competitively during the last two years due to COVID-19 and that meant this year was the first and only opportunity to compete at the provincial level for Grade 12 players, Andrew Berkshire and Dylan Koebel.
“The Grade 12s were in Grade 9 the last time we had badminton,” Denison said. “They did really well. I think it was nice seeing them progress through.”
Denison explained that the boys worked really hard to get to provincials after losing their final game in the South Central Zones tournament, but managed to overcome the same opponent at divisionals.
As they moved towards provincials, the games became more and more competitive, he shared.
At the same time, Poulas similarly faced a loss in zones, but beat the same girl later at provincials.
“It's good for them to experience the high level, playing at provincials,” Denison said.
Both Poulas and the Phoenix boys’ doubles team played three games on Friday followed by one game for Poulas on Saturday and three more on Saturday for Berkshire and Koebel.
Denison started teaching at Springbank Community High School two years ago, which made this his first official year coaching the Phoenix badminton team.
“It was really good. It’s one of those sports where you can see the progression,” he said. “There are so many skills that you can see the kids build over the semester, especially if they're developed and pushed appropriately and you're running a good set of drills.”
From the start of the season, there were six practices per week before and after school, with some practices focusing specifically on skills for singles or doubles players.
“You see a really nice progression and it's really satisfying for a coach to watch over the six or seven weeks,” he said.