I seem to have a knack for threes. My third try at powerade led me to my first major badminton championship. My third tourney for this year gave me my first championship for 2006 (Smart Attack) And then again last saturday, my third try at the all jesuit badminton tourney brought the sweetest victory of my life.
Macre and I won in the ladies doubles level D category. I consider it the sweetest coz it was a big boost to our confidence. Weeks of training with tito boy finally paid off. After losing at Kimoni and accel, it was a confidence booster for the two of us. But most of all it also marked my first victory in any of the ateneo sponsored badminton tournaments.
I've never won in any of our previous tourneys-- not one game. So when Macre and I won the first match via a thrilling 3 setter win over our worthy opponents, it was all so surreal. When we swept the eliminations, I was amazed beyond words. The tournament was held at club 650 and we used the new IBF scoring system. Oh boy! Nakakapagod pala ang 1-21 na rally point. And every shot counts pa! By some miraculous blessing from heaven, I committed only 3 service errors in the entire tournament, a world record by my standards (I've always been teased as the worst server next to mark and rb in our tropa!).
After the eliminations, Macre and I took a long deserved lunch of steak and bbq at hotrocks. Then we went to our favorite tambayan (a.k.a. provident) to rest before the finals. We spoke to some of the other players who told us that our finals opponents were strong and basically implied that we had no chance. So we both agreed to just let fate take its course and play for fun. Bahala na si Batman. After all I never expected to go beyond the eliminations. So everything that we have accomplished were already blessings for me. But sabi nga ni Len, "nandyan na kayo, go for glory na!"
So when we actually won the finals match after struggling in the first set, it took several seconds before it really sank in. Macre and I were screaming with joy.
We struggled in the first set and had to fight back an 11-6 deficit. We managed to tie the score to 15 all before losing the lead again 19-16. By some miracle, we managed to gather our inner strengths to tie the score back to 19 all before sneaking a first set win of 21-19. In a normal game (the old system) that would be easy. But in the new rally point system, you have to play a near perfect game to overcome such odds. I remember luis speaking to us during the technical time out at 11 points. He was so open to the thought that we'd lose so he just told us to have fun and exhaust the backhand of our leftie opponent. I think it was in that moment I told myself that I was just gonna play for the love of the game and not worry about the score anymore.
I guess the relaxed stance paid off for us coz in the second set, we built a big lead (13-5) that we made it nearly impossible for our opponents to catch up. Add that to several lucky shots that we seem to be blessed with. Luis laughed so hard when I hit an overhead backhand shot (na bumakal pa!) that dropped in the middle of our opponents court. In my shock I actually blurted, "Pucha! Pumasok?!" We had so many lucky shots that it made the entire game much more fun.
Macre and I moved well together and trusted each other's instincts. We kept ourselves alert as to where each would be in court so as not to leave any area unguarded. So when she screamed "out!" at matchpoint, I never hesitated to follow. Badminton is not just a game of physical strength and intelligence. It is also a game of trust. True enough the ball was clearly out and we were declared champions.
There was no big cheering squad rooting for us nor were there cameras or tv crews to record our victory. There was only us-- Macre and I and our one man cheering squad and coach Luis who didn't play that night to watch us. And for us three at court 15, it was the moment of a lifetime. We hugged and jumped for joy. Our opponent had nothing else left to do but congratulate us for a job well done. They had a cheering brigade with them but I guess we just wanted the victory more. We won glass medals, 2000 cash and 3000 gift certificates. But most of all, we won back our pride.
When you keep on losing sometimes you stop believing you could actually do it. Moreso when you see people doubt your capability to actually win. Macre and I proved to ourselves last saturday that we could be champions.And that we are champions.
I told Macre before the tournament that I would like us to enjoy our games more than winning.As much as I would love to win, I didn't want her to feel pressured to do well. After all people expected her to carry me in the tourney since she was much stronger than me. But I told my kumare that I want her to have fun.And if it were to be my farewell tournament, I'd like it to be something I'll treasure forever. My partner made it possible for me not only to enjoy it but also to emerged champion. I am forever grateful for that.
The all Jesuit marked the end of my "loser" days in the ateneo tournaments. Not that I felt bad about it before. I have always enjoyed our All Jesuit tournaments. The sense of camaraderie and healthy competition is something worth joining for every year. But this year I not only made my team proud but I also made myself proud. The victory also marked the start of a badminton life outside that of my former kakulitan and partner who has chosen to disappear from my life. I could do it pala even without him cheering me on. He didn't even bother to say congratulations. And for the first time last saturday, I actually didn't care.
Life goes on. And as I relish the remaining days of my colorful badminton life, I shall endeavor to make it the best times of my life.