I never realized how much of a mental game badminton really is. We often think of it as a physical game with all the running and smashing that goes on while on court. But when one looks closer, one would realize that in the end games are not won by brawn and power but by thinking and strategy.
Luis and I won the level d mixed doubles event over the weekend at teh Go! Badminton Tournament at Powersmash. It was our first major mixed doubles championship together. We won at the Playersbest-Shuttledome dual meet a month ago but this was the first time we won a big championship. We joked that we finally broke the curse of powersmash on our badminton tropa.
We won our elimination matches easily. The first game we went up against two ateneans who gave a good fight but were simply overwhelmed by our partnership. The second game was a massacre. The players were obviously too highly levelled for d. But since it was a game we really had to play it well and with no mercy. The third match, our opponent was at first a bit cocky. But as the match went on, the girl became a bit more bitchy. All three had one thing in their mind-- bodegan si hazel hehehe. Fortunately I managed to hold my fort in front. Luis took care of the back without any problem.
We didnt get a bye in the quarters (there were three bye slots and we got one of the two quarter slots!) unfortunately so we had an early morning game yesterday. It was past 11 am but after sleeping at 2:30 am because of training and a surprise visit to medical city to see Luis' inspiration, 5 hours of sleep was barely enough to reenergize us completely. We went up against Luis' teachers in UP in the quarters. We didnt want to waste much energy so we came out real strong scoring 17-0 before allowing arvin and molly to score. The game took a slower pace and we found our opponents catching up on us till we ended the match 21-7. Our advantage was we warmed up before the game and we really took time to think of our shots.
Barely 10 minutes after the end of the quarterfinals our names were called again for the semifinals match against Valen and Des (also from UP). Despite our fatigue we slowly went back to court 6 to play our game. I started to tire more in that game. There were times when I could barely catch the ball and made some crucial errors. But we managed to win 21-5. We built an early lead thus the game was dictated more by our play. I saw our girl opponent became pissed during the game. When I asked for the shuttlecock to be changed she refused. I guess when fatigue and frustration sets in, we can be bitchy at times. Oh well.
There was an amazing rally during the match. I lunged for a drop shot on my forehand side when I lost my balance and went straight out of the court onto the next court. Luis was shocked but he immediately stood ground in the middle to cover the court until I managed to get back and smash the emerging shuttle on my side. It was so funny coz we really thought we'd lose the play. But quick thinking and reflexes paved the way for us to both get back on our feet.
After the semis we cooled down inside the car. I was told that the finals would be at 1:40pm but to our great surprise again, we were called on court at 1pm!!!. Armed with bananas and water, we took on the hardest game of the day. The finals match was changed to a regular 3 set format from the 1-21 no setting format of the elims, quarters and semis. We easily won the 1st set 15-2. In the second set, fatigue finally set in and we suddenly found ourselves losing our first game 11-15. Luis was getting more and more frustrated with both our plays(I thought he was angry at me for not being able to catch the easy shots but in truth pala he was trying to psych me up. Yun nga lang baliktad ang effect sa kin). We were simply committing so many unforced errors. In the third set we built a good lead of 11-2 only to see it slowly crumble away till the opponents came close at 12-11. That was when I told luis, "partner wag mo na ko pagalitan!" Luis finally told me he wasn't angry at me but he was just trying to psych me up. I told him later on how I was so frustrated with myself already that seeing him frustrated makes me angry at myself more. I wasn't angry at him I was angry at myself. I knew I could easily kill those high drops but I simply couldn't focus on the ball. I was simply to tired physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The psy-war wasn't only happening on our side of the court. Our opponents were worse. Nagmumurahan na sila sa court. One time the guy even deliberately foiled a shot that ended up being smashed by me directly on his partner's head. He laughed afterwards. Binenta ba ang sariling partner!
At 13-11, I asked Luis to step up for me. I finally admitted to him that I could not carry it anymore. At 14-11, I fumbled at service. During the second serve Luis successfully drove the shuttlecock on the backhand side. It was in and we finally WON!Luis threw his racket on the air. It took several seconds for it to hit me--that it was finally over. I threw my racket and collapsed on court. I just sat there, crying until luis dragged me up to shake hands with our opponents and our umpire. We sat on the sidelines for a while trying to get some air. I cried again until luis dragged me up again and hugged me partner champion tayo!
Pawis at dugo ang kapalit ng isang trophy at cash prize
We realized that we actually played the most number of matches among all our opponents at level d. We played 6 matches in all. Our finals opponent played only 5 matches. We analyzed our match and realized that we nearly lost because we could not think clearly anymore. We were powerful but without intelligence and strategy we just lost it. Fortunately for us, we had a good lead. Nag pay off din ang aming investment.
We celebrated the win with our friends and pizza and beer. I don't think I'll ever forget this tourney. I guess for the reason that it finally vindicated me from all the bad memories of before. And also I played injured since sat. My arm was strained by the weights we lifted last thursday and my dysmmenorhea was making things worse. I took painkillers before the game against doctors advice because my arm was really killing me. I risked my platelets for that championship. And I'm just damned glad it paid off.
We could have lost the finals but I'm glad we won. I feel happy and proud but most of all I feel absolutely blessed to be able to play a great tournament and prove to myself that I can do it.
Yes perseverance can be a virtue!