First year's a charm for Kung

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Qualifying for the provincial high school badminton championships is usually the domain of club-level competitors.

It's not normally within the scope of a player in their first year.

Yet, when the tournament is held today and tomorrow in Calgary, Lindsay Kung will take her spot among those vying for crowns.

"This is my first year with big tournaments, so I'm still feeling wowed by it," said the Grade 10 student at William Aberhart high school. "Even if I place last, I'll be really happy I went there."

After winning the city and divisional title against non-club competitors, Kung placed second at the zone event, which incorporates A-level players, to make the 30-member Calgary team.

As a youngster, Kung took lessons through the city's parks and recreation department, and didn't play regularly, but stopped once she reached junior high.

Her main competition has been her father, Don.

"I played with my dad every few Sunday mornings, six in the morning, at the downtown YMCA," she said.

"This year, I wanted to go out for a team and badminton was a sport I'd tried before."

William Aberhart, co-winners of the Div. 1 team title with Sir Winston Churchill, is also sending the Sr. boys doubles team of Benson Chan and Colin Szpecht to provincials.

Singles play for the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association provincials will be at Bishop O'Byrne high school, while the doubles competition will be at Henry Wise Wood and mixed doubles at Centennial. The finals will be at Bishop O'Byrne.

Kevin Pelehos, Aberhart head coach, said Kung's achievement is a case of a student finding their niche and learning how much can be achieved.

"I think it's a level of confidence and I think that's what she's establishing," he said. "As a junior and somebody coming into badminton for the first time, confidence in herself and her abilities, being able to step onto the court and believing she will win and doing it, that's what she established. It's exciting to see."

As well as her first real season of playing badminton has gone, Kung isn't pushing to play at an even more competitive level.

With plans to study engineering after graduation -- still two years away -- her best guess is badminton will be a fun endeavour for her high school days.

"After high school, I'll be in university and don't know if I'll have time," she said. "I'd really love to but I think I'll just stick with this system. But you never know."


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