Provincial debut a learning experience for Pilsworth

Matthew Gourlie
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Before heading to Warman, Central's Max Pilsworth said he wasn't sure what to expect from his first high school provincial badminton championship.

Max Pilsworth from Central returns a shot in boys singles action at the SHSAA regional badminton tournament at Peacock Saturday.

Now, the Grade 10 student knows what it is like to face the best of the best in Saskatchewan.

Pilsworth lost all three of his matches in boys singles at the SHSAA provincials Saturday.

"I was very impressed and very proud of how he played and how he handled himself," said his dad Kevin Pilsworth who is also one of Central's coaches. "Max was a little disappointed, thinking he didn't play as well as he had. He wasn't used to that level of play."

The majority of the field was in Grade 12 or Grade 11 and the majority have been playing longer than Pilsworth and play all year within the badminton club system.

"For him to come in as a Grade 10 student and make that final eight is an accomplishment," said Pilwsworth.

It was also a great learning experience for the young player as he got a chance to see what he needs to work on to try to reach that higher level in the future.

"There's a couple of things you really notice when you get to that level, but the number one thing is the consistency. The number of unforced errors just drop. At the local and regional level, you see kids making three or four errors in a row that cost points. That just doesn't happen at the provincial level," said Pilsworth. "The other thing is speed — the speed of the shots and the speed of the athletes themselves. They practice so diligently and they're so used to the proper court movement.

"Their speed is overwhelming. It just jumps out at you. You got caught off guard in his first match just by the speed of the athlete he played. It took a little while to adapt."

Pilsworth lost that first match 2-0 to Thomas Lowe from Regina Luther who finished fourth.

Pilsworth gave Darian Sunshine from Wadena a good test in his second match, but lost 23-21, 21-17.

"That was probably the best badminton he played, ever," said Pilsworth. "He ended up losing in overtime in the first game … he almost won the first game. There was a crucial point he ended up losing and the other athlete got to 22-21 and ended up winning. But they were wire-to-wire the whole way through. That was a really good experience. (Sunshine) was a really good player, so for Max to have pushed him that far was a real positive."

He lost 2-0 to Cam Jensen from Saskatoon Bishop Mahoney who went on to win the provincial title.

"It took a few hours after the tournament… for him to realize that it was a pretty cool experience. He was a deflated a little bit after his last match. He played the kid that ended up winning the whole thing and he got a bit of a thumping," said Pilsworth. "That was a good learning experience for him and it gave him a good idea of where he needs to go and what to strive for in the next couple of years

Assiniboia's Jennifer Packet also attended and finished with a 1-2 record.

Packet beat Seika Toida from Prince Albert St. Mary 2-0 and lost 2-0 to Andrea Wilyman from Regina Thom and 2-0 to Haley Enns from Rosthern Jr. College. Enns won their pool, but Wilyman beat Enns in the provincial final.

Adam Keith and Kaleisha Heggestad from Frontier won the mixed doubles title after winning the regional title at Peacock a week ago.

Chaitanya Sohani and Paranna Sohani from Saskatoon Evan Hardy won the boys doubles title, while Allison Cey and Chelsea Gruber from Wilkie won the girls doubles championship.

Organizations: Grade 10

Geographic location: Saskatoon

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