The sport of badminton has been part of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) landscape since 1965-66.
Several schools have come-and-gone since then and the sport even took a brief hiatus from 2012-2014.
ACAC Archives will show that the Red Deer College Kings/Queens won nine ACAC badminton team banners, while the Mount Royal Cougars claimed 10.
Red Deer no longer has a badminton programme, while Mount Royal moved up to U Sports a few years ago.
But the King and Queen of the provincial hardwood remains the NAIT Ooks, with 15 team titles including an eight-year run.
With four schools participating at the 2018-2019 ACAC Badminton Championships February 16-17, 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta and hosted by the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder, will the Ooks still dominate or will Concordia steal some of the Thunder?
Or will The Kings University Eagles break the gold medal jinx and the Old College Broncos add to their two top podium finishes from past years?
The Kings University Eagles
Eagles head coach Naeem Haque said: “We need to get some stronger players. Last year I had a mixed team that went to provincials and nationals and they are not back. I have a new whole team. But I have one guy, Narayan Ramdhani (1st year, Business, Georgetown, Guyana / Marian Academy) who has done really well in the ACAC. I am pretty sure he will be going to nationals. He has only lost one match this year and that was at Olds and he was pretty sick then. He is 3-1 in men’s singles. Things are looking up for us.”
Of the possibility of making it nine ACAC Badminton titles in-a-row, Ooks head coach Sinead Cheah informed: “You know it is going to be harder this year as Concordia has some very strong players on their team. We will still try to do our best and hopefully outsmart them in a few ways.”
“For the sport overall, it is positive to have competition between schools, so they can get in there and have their time to shine. We know it would be hard to let it (ACAC team title) go, but we will have to put up more of a fight this year than in previous years.”
“Jeffrey Ko (5th year, Denturist Technology) is definitely a favourite for any or all events and he has definitely propelled our program forward.
“Eyota Kwan (2nd year, Chemical Technology) is definitely one of our stronger girls and she is a former ACAC winner.”
Ko and Kwan are defending ACAC and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) mixed doubles champions.
Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder
“In terms of the team event, it is going to be really, really close. With the format best-of-seven, you have to win four-of-the-seven matches and we are prepared. Plus, with us hosting, I think we have a good shot at winning it for the first time in a long time and there should be some really cool matches,” said head coach Kevin Mac Alpine. “With Desmond Wang (2nd, Bachelor of Science, Edmonton, Alberta) and Takeisha Wang (4th year, Bachelor of Science, Edmonton, Alberta), both won men’s and women’s singles at nationals…any time you have them on the team, that is a perk and we have a solid core around them. We are a well-balanced team.”
Olds College Broncos
“For the provincials to get into a gold medal or medals we will be looking to our men’s doubles of Colton Geier (1st year, Heavy Equipment Tech, Two Hills, Alberta) and Alexander Boulier (1st year, Sports Management, Red Deer, Alberta),” stated head coach Mary Smith. “They need to have consistency, doubles rotation and focus. Mixed doubles will be our second focus with Kacie Peever (2nd year, Land Reclamation & Remediation, Fort St. John, British Columbia) and her partner depends on how men’s doubles go. So, it will be either Colton Geier or Luther Jerke (2nd year, Turfgrass Management, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan).”
All games will be played at Ralph King Athletic Centre.
(Reporting by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips)
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