The top college badminton players in the country are set to converge on Bible Hill to battle for national supremacy.
The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Badminton Championships are being hosted by Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Mar. 6 to 9 and the convenor of the event, Jordan Richey, can't wait to get started.
"Dalhousie AC has a tremendous reputation for hosting championships," Richey said. "So it should be a great event."
Action gets underway Thursday, Mar. 7 at 10:30 a.m. with matches running all day at Langille Athletic Centre until 7:30 p.m. Preliminary play wraps up Friday with semifinal matchups at 5 p.m. Medal and consolation rounds are slated for Saturday at 10 a.m. before the medal presentations and closing ceremonies at 5 p.m.
Before play kicks off, the CCAA awards banquet and practice sessions will be held Wednesday.
Richey is expecting nothing but the best hospitality from the campus. Although it will be the first time in 20 years the school has hosted the national badminton championship, the campus is held in high regard by the CCAA for its hosting abilities with several other national championships being held there in recent years.
"They have a strong reputation of hosting championships and it's the 20th anniversary of the last time they hosted badminton nationals," he said.
Richey also gave credit to the school's badminton program, led by coach Richard Bennicke, for also helping to tip the scale in the campus' favour. The Dalhousie Rams will have a pair of teams competing for a piece of the national hardware up for grabs. Truro native Tim Trites and Andrew Sytsma, of Royalton, N.B., are representing the black and gold in men's doubles while Sarah Pepperdine, of Burton, N.B., and Michelle Doane, from Halifax, will be competing in women's doubles. Both teams finished second at the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) championships Feb. 17 at Mount Allison University to nab the conference's host spots at nationals. The men fell to Benn Van Ryn and Bryce Mason of the Kings Blue Devils in the final while Maddy Morrissey and Isabelle Choumiline of the Mount Allison Mounties took the women's title.
Bennicke is looking forward to seeing his athletes compete on the national stage, especially Sytsma, who is a fifth-year Animal Science student making his first appearance at nationals.
"I'm so excited I cannot put it into words," Bennicke said. "These athletes have worked very hard all year to be able to participate."
They'll be up against some stiff competition. Desmond and Takeisha Wang, the defending men's and women's singles champions, will be looking for a medal in mixed doubles for the Concordia Thunder (Edmonton). Takeisha is also fresh off competing at Canada Games last week in Red Deer, AB.
Eyota Kwan, who also competed at Canada Games and is the owner of a mixed doubles gold medal from a year ago, will be looking for another in women's singles. She'll be representing the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks.
"There will be some elite players in attendance," Richey said.
Although Bennicke and assistant coach Chris Ross, feel their teams have already been successful just qualifying for the event, Bennicke said he hopes his athletes get as much as they can from the experience.
"This will be the highest level of competition any of our athletes have ever had," he said. "Watching some events, meeting new people and competing against the best players is a success. Focusing on each match and playing to our absolute best is the goal."