Eagles badminton wins gold for the first time in league championship and sends five to nationals
It’s a first for Eagles badminton as they became ACAC league champions, taking home gold at the March 5 playoffs in Olds. They beat longtime top contender NAIT for the banner.
“Our goal at the start of the season was to win gold. I’m proud of my team and how they performed,” says head coach Naeem Haque. “We’ve only been in the league seven years, so to win against a powerhouse like NAIT is a great accomplishment.”
King’s took home bronze in the years 2017 to 2020 (there was no league play in 2021 due to COVID-19 regulations). Haque says NAIT has always been the strongest team as it was only two years ago that Concordia finally beat them after an eight-year winning streak. So for King’s to push into first place against such strong competitors is quite the accomplishment.
“Our team’s always been competitive, but we couldn’t compete against some of the stronger teams before. But now we’re at the position where they’re scared of us and that’s awesome,” Haque says.
The Eagles entered the tournament as first seed since leading up to playoffs they won both ACAC tournaments: on January 16 as hosts—for the first time finishing a tournament with the most points—and on February 6 at NAIT where men’s doubles secured second place after playing three games against two of the strongest players in the league.
On Saturday King’s played Olds College in the semifinals and beat them in five out of six games: singles Chanel Simrose, Narayan Ramdhani, Alex Stewart; doubles David Jay and Stewart, Cecilia Wolski and Abby Ledda. And in the finals against NAIT they beat them in four out of seven games: singles Ledda, Wolski; doubles Wolski and Makayla Basque, Stewart and Ramdhani.
On Sunday the Eagles competed for a place at nationals and are proudly sending five athletes to CCAA Badminton Nationals on March 17 – 20 at NAIT. Ramdhani will compete in men's singles on ACAC 1, Ledda and Wolski in women’s doubles on ACAC 1, and Stewart and Jay in men’s doubles on ACAC 2.
This will be the most players King’s has ever sent to nationals as the Eagles have only sent a mixed team and a single player previously. Before the March 6 tournament Haque said he was confident he’d take a good number of players to nationals this year.
“Last year we didn’t play but we practised. King’s was one of the only schools which let the players at least practice even though there was no league at all. And I think that’s what helped us, that we did work hard last year and it’s paying off.”