Samuel Smashing opponents in Badminton

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

 

Samuel Navarra (St Patrick’s College, Wellington) is the top ranked National Under 19 badminton player in New Zealand.

 

He took up the sport aged eight and made swift progress, winning his first tournament and achieving his first top national ranking aged 13.

 

Born in the UK, Navarra is of Philippines extraction. He arrived in New Zealand when he was three and is coached by his dad, Vammie,

 

“That can be a bit tricky sometimes,” Navarra laughed.

 

“When he’s not happy with my performance he becomes Dad and tells me off.”

 

Navarra has had little to complain about recently. On August 12 he successfully defended his College Sport Wellington Singles title with a 21-17, 21-14 victory over Wellington College’s Alex Galt. The pair are regular rivals.

 

“I haven’t lost to Alex yet. He’s a good competitor but I felt I won comfortably which was pleasing.

 

“I haven’t lost in Wellington or Central North Island tournaments for a while now. The hardest opponents are in Auckland. There are a number of good players up there so I try to compete with them as often as I can.”

 

New Zealand’s top ranked senior player is Edward Lau from North Harbour. Navarra is 16, four years younger than Lau. He is ranked inside the top 30 senior players in the country. Navarra maintains a demanding training schedule.

 

“On court I have about eight or nine hours a week. Off court I do running and gym to stay in shape so all up I train about 15 hours a week.

 

“How do I play? It depends on the person I’m playing. If I know I’m faster and stronger than my opponent I’ll be aggressive. However if my opponent has that advantage I will be defensive and try to wear them down. I much prefer to play attacking. It’s easier to control the pace of the match from that position.”

 

Navarra also enjoys basketball and commerce. He hopes to one day represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games. Perhaps New Zealand’s most decorated male badminton player is Dan Shirley who won a silver and three bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games between 1998 and 2006.

 

Last week the Senior Regional Team finals were held with results as follows:

Regional Premier Girls

Wgtn East beat St Oran’s

Regional Premier Boys

Wellington College beat Scots

Regional Division 1 Girls

Wgtn Girls’ 2 beat Tawa 1

Regional Division 1 Boys

Aotea beat Wgtn College 2

Regional Division 2 Girls

Paraparaumu beat Wgtn Girls’ 3

Regional Division 2 Boys

Silverstream beat Wgtn College 4

The National Secondary Championships will be held next week from 29 August to 1 September at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua.