By Mark Etheridge
Departing national badminton coach Stewart Carson believes the state of the sport is a healthy one after his four-year stint.
Carson was talking after the recent completion of the SA Championships in Cape Town.
Main winners in Cape Town were Prakash Vijayanth (singles), Elmé de Villiers (women’s singles), Wiaan Viljoen and Andries Malan (men’s doubles), Stacey Doubell/Jade Morgan (women’s doubles) and Willem and Anna Viljoen (mixed doubles).
Speaking off his departure, Carson who coached the SA badminton sides at the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games, told Road to Rio 2016: ‘I’m leaving Badminton South Africa to further my career at a European badminton federation.
‘I’ve loved every minute working at BSA and I believe that I’ve left them in a much stronger situation that when I started there four years ago.
‘I would to thank SASCOC for all their help over the last four years – badminton in SA could not have done this without their support and guidance.
‘I’ll miss the players very much and I wish them all the best in their badminton careers and I’ll always follow their results and be rooting for them.’
On the form shown by the players at the nationals. ‘The men’s singles was without our best in Jacob Maliekal who suffered a groin strain after his stomach pull at Commonwealth Games.
‘This left the draw open for Prakash Vijayanth who is the defending champ. He had an easy run to the semi where he narrowly beat “old” Roelof Dednam in three games. Prakash played Cameron Coetzer of Gauteng North in the final, Cameron had beaten Chris Dednam in the semi. Cameron is showing huge improvement. He was U19 last year so to reach the final in men’s singles was a great achievement. Prakash won in three games.’
The women’s singles saw a battle between Commonwealth Games team members De Villiers and Sandra le Grange with the former coming out tops.
‘The fact that both singles finals comprised of players who are all still under 22 years old means we are on the right track and are doing things right. This current crop of players can go far with the right exposure.’
And the same sentiment goes for the men’s doubles. ‘Wiaan and Andries beat the Dednam brothers in two easy sets, also a clear indication that we are moving forward fast.
‘In the women’s doubles the going is tough because we have excellent depth, there is not much between them all. Most of these players will be around for some time because women’s doubles players traditionally have long careers.
‘And in the mixed doubles, the fact that Willem and Anna is another good indication that we are moving forward.’