Jan Salceda is one versatile badminton player.
The Grade 11 Sisler High School student placed first in the boy’s singles competition at the provincial badminton championships, which took place May 2 and 3 at College Louis-Riel.
In 2013, Salceda, paired with his older sister Patricia, won the mixed doubles competition at provincials. In both tournaments, Salceda went undefeated.
"He has a tremendous ability to read his opponent on the other side of the court and make his shots adjust to them," said Sisler badminton coach Jan Watters.
"If someone isn’t moving around enough, he will move them right and left. If they’re smashing really well, he’ll challenge them and put drop shots on them. If they’re really good at the net, he’ll drive them deep. He’s really good at reading his opponent and making decisions based on that."
Salceda started playing badminton as a child in his native Philippines. At age seven, he and his family moved to Canada, and his parents signed him up for club badminton with Archie Chawla at the Winnipeg Winter Club.
Salceda, who also plays with the Rockets Badminton Club at Maples Collegiate, said his greatest strength on the court is his footwork, a skill that was stressed in club badminton.
"My coach would make us do at least 45 minutes of footwork, twice a week," Salceda said.
"My footwork is better than most. I use that as an advantage. I make them run more around the court, so they’ll lose their footwork."
Despite winning the provincial boy singles crown, Salceda said he prefers doubles because in singles "you have to cover the whole court and you get down on yourself more."
Still, Salceda said he’s able to keep his composure on the court.
"I just talk to myself when I play. I just ask myself to calm down," Salceda said. "When you play, you have to make sure you’re not hotheaded, because if you are, you’ll start making worse shots and it gets harder from there."
Watters said other coaches have commented on how gentlemanly a player Salceda is.
"He’s so sportsmanlike," Watters said. "He may beat his opponent, but he does it in a way that never humiliates the other person or makes the other person look bad. He could wind up and crank a shot and just let you have it but he doesn’t. He just hits a good enough shot to get the point."
Salceda, who also plays volleyball, said he plans to continue his badminton career next year.