Menihek High School students competed with adults in the Western Open badminton tournament last weekend.
The 16 students competed across three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The format is a new concept which began last year.
In previous tournaments advanced players competed in elimination rounds, usually resulting in novice players only playing a couple matches.
Jeff Milley, badminton coach and member of the board of directors for Badminton NL, said the new format allows for more playtimes for each category.
“In this format they play in the pool and play at least six or seven matches before they even get to the tournament round. So they get lots of exposure.”
Because there are no age or ability restrictions, anyone is invited to compete.
“Now somebody who picked up a racket in September can compete in October,” Mr Milley said.
Low numbers led the organization to look at an effective alternative to the structure, he said.
“As the kids graduate and move out of the community the numbers are getting smaller and smaller because people aren't willing to spend the money to compete if they're only a starting act.”
Mr. Milley said the change was also necessary to make the game more available for the people who wanted to get out and play, but not necessarily in provincially ranked matches.
“Normally I would only take an advanced group, because the beginners normally wouldn’t win and I wouldn’t want parents spending all kinds of money if the kids can’t compete.”
Although the tournament is more ability based, it still has a competitive aspect. Some players will be selected on a provincial team to travel outside the province to compete.
Mr. Milley, who took home a bronze medal in intermediate doubles, said the adults also enjoyed the format.
“Some of the adults have been playing for a long time and are very good. They were pleased to see how well developed the kids were.”
Mr. Milley said some of the kids were intimidated at first, but it only lasted until they began playing and scoring.
“It was a good experience. It helped their confidence.”
Aaron Power won a silver medal in mixed doubles for beginners. He decided to try it because his brother played in high school, and his friends were playing.
He learned a lot from playing against adults, he said.
“They’d give us tips on the court if we did something wrong.”
Patrick Henderson won a silver medal in mixed doubles for advanced players. This was his third year competing.
“The first year I played, they made it so the top player in the province played the lower player. So after my second game I played the top in the province and then I was done.”
He enjoys the new format the most, he said.
“It helps in all aspects.”