As varsity tennis at UOIT has been disbanded, varsity badminton is set to be the newest sport for varsity athletes to compete in.
Wayne King is the recently announced head coach for the new program. He has extensive experience around Ontario and has attended camps as far as Nova Scotia and in the U.S. to improve his coaching skills.
King has been coaching badminton since 1972 and created the Harwood Badminton Club in Ajax for children with learning difficulties.
“I was there for 13 years, in 1978 we made the club public and in 1985 we had our first national champion,” said King.
King then got involved with the Ontario junior team program and in 1998 became the coach of the University of Toronto badminton program and was there until last year.
The UOIT tennis program was disbanded due to the campus tennis centre having its courts converted into turf, but that has enabled badminton to be introduced.
“I’ve been pushing and asking why there hasn’t been a badminton program,” said King. “I’ve been in contact with both Michael Duggan and Scott Dennis for many years, Scott got in touch with me last fall and we’ve been working together since.”
There was a badminton team at Durham College in the 1970s but it was discontinued.
King has a close relationship with the college as he runs DC summer sports camps during the summer months along with Duggan, who is the sports coordinator for Durham College.
The job of head coach was a natural fit for King, as he already has a strong relationship with faculty members.
“They were aware of who I was because of the relationship I had built with them and my involvement with the University of Toronto,” said King. “It was a perfect fit both geographically and because they knew I was extremely interested.”
UOIT tryouts are set to take place in September but recruiting for the team will start now.
“I will be going to high school tournaments and looking at top junior players around Ontario,” said King.
King has also made every university and college team aware that the program is set to start at UOIT. In recent years, Western has won ten of the last 19-team events at the OUA championships.
King and his staff will schedule a series of competitive events, as the team work its way towards the OUA championship in February or March of 2017.
Every OUA team creates its own schedule leading up to the OUA championship tournament, as there is no regular season.
At the OUA championship, the UOIT team will have two men’s singles players, two women’s singles players, two men’s doubles teams, two women’s double teams and two mixed doubles teams.
They will then play round-robin matches in a five-team pool and the top teams will then play for medals.
King said he will look to have his players participate in the IUCC circuit, which is an independent University/College circuit to prepare for the championship.
This will consist of around seven or eight tournaments for the players.