© Thomas Becker - Amherst Daily News
Taylor Hicks gets ready to serve in a senior girls doubles match against River Hebert in district tournament play at Amherst Regional High School.
AMHERST - Amherst Regional High School is playing host to this year’s NSSAF Cumberland district badminton tournament and expectations are high.
By the time the two-day tournament, which began yesterday, is complete 100 to 150 students will have stepped foot on the court. Students are coming from all across Cumberland County from Amherst, Springhill, Parrsboro, River Hebert, Oxford and Pugwash.
Of those students, 25 of them are from Amherst, eight of whom have some unfinished business.
As junior players in 2009, the team of Amanda Wheaton, Jennifer Cameron, Elyse Ferguson, Taylor Hicks, Brittany Hicks, Peter Woo, Matt Beal and Joey O’Dell played their way through regionals in Antigonish, only to fall short at provincials. For years this team has struggled to get that elusive gold at provincials.
This year’s objective?
To advance further in the competition, said ARHS badminton coach Cheryl Mackintosh.
“This tournament determines who’s going to be placing at the regionals in Antigonish and from there provincials.”
That’s exactly the same mindset the eight seniors are going into the tournament with.
“The eight players that are playing on the senior team are graduating this year so it’s their last year playing. They’re really determined to go to provincials,” Mackintosh said.
This year’s provincials will be held in Truro.
The sport of badminton is often considered a second-tier sport but that has not stopped it from finding a niche in Cumberland County, especially here in Amherst.
“Amherst has got a very strong team. For the last eight to 10 years they’ve been putting the mark on the county. Pugwash used to be the team to beat, now Amherst is the team to beat,” she said.
The reason why the sport is so popular in the area is because a lot of the players don’t play other sports and it’s easy to pick up a racket and go.
“There’s a lot of kids that can play badminton that don’t participate in team sports. Badminton is a sport where you can be as competitive as you want to be,” she said.