When it comes to sports and physical distancing there may be no better option than a racket sport that has players separated by a net. To that end, a badminton club in North Bay has not only had continual support but has received new interest from prospective players over the last few months.
Kurt Tempelmans Plat is the owner of KTP Racquet Club and he says the COVID-19 pandemic actually had a rather minimal effect on their game.
“Ultimately it cut our season a little bit short,” he says.
“We typically have our provincial championships in April, and they were cancelled this year, unfortunately. But we didn’t really miss out on much because after April it winds down a bit before we get into our summer camps. But since we were able to open up on May 19th it was nice to bounce back before the summer hit us.”
Tempelmans Plat says they have set up in the Granite Club for their seasonal home this year. “We have set up four professional-grade courts to play badminton and pickleball at our leisure until the end of August,” he says.
The KTP Racquet Club is constantly searching for a permanent home in the city of North Bay. They must rely on school gyms and other venues to hold their practices and events, but Templemans Plat says being at the Granite Club for the summer has been a great temporary residence.
“Its definitely a big step up from the schools that we usually use. We have 24-7 access and we can leave all of our equipment and we can spread ourselves into the community a little bit more. This is pretty much the ideal situation in terms of a space we would want permanently but we’re just here for just a few months, although we’ll take it over having nothing at this point.”
And while the club has a strong member base of about 60 people, Templemans Plat says they have enjoyed an uptick in interest as this has been one of the few activities people could enjoy outside their homes.
“We have a lot of new people that have either never played badminton or just saw our signage and just wanted to check it out as something to do. Over the last few months as things have been opening up we have started to see more of the regular badminton or pickleball crowd, but we still have a lot of people that are just coming in to check it out for an hour or two,” he says.
Templemans Plat adds the appeal to both of these sports its that its easy to learn the basics and just start playing for people of all ages, although he adds, “There is definitely a learning curve if you’re trying to learn all the specific rules and when you start getting into the strategies of the game and techniques other than just hitting the ball back and forth, but there’s nothing stopping you from ultimately coming out and just hitting the birdie around and asking a few questions while you’re here and maybe look into joining the club or getting involved in one our group sessions.”
And if you really want to start testing your skills, Templemans Plat says KTP players can compete in a circuit around the province.
“We have a lot of programs designed for everyone, from recreational to competitive, from junior to adult. We offer lessons as a group or individually. But for that competitive group, especially our juniors we typically compete in one of two circuits whether it’s the northern Ontario circuit, normally North Bay, Sudbury and Timmins, or the provincial circuit where its mostly competitions down in the GTA area. There are a good amount of tournaments throughout the year. About four or five up north and as many as 16 down south depending on which circuits you’re playing in.”
Of course, the competition gets stronger as the pool of players grows in a specific city, but Templemans Plat says the 60 or so members they have in North Bay is a very strong base considering this club only began a handful of years ago.
“Considering we started off with just five or six members about five years ago, to grow to where we are now has been great to see. In addition to those members who are paying to play on a regular basis and we have plenty of drop-ins, plenty of kids and adults who are doing lessons or participating in summer camps. So, we have connected with a few hundred people in the area every year. We are definitely aiming to get those numbers up a lot higher in the future but considering memberships at the clubs in Toronto sit anywhere between 80-300 people, I feel like we are not that far off.”
So if you haven’t picked up a racquet and smacked a birdie around since your high school gym class and its sounds of interest to you, there’s no reason you should let this summer pass you by without checking out KTP Racquet Club.
Templemans Plat says they have all the equipment you need for a fun afternoon to rediscover your enjoyment for the sport, all you need are a clean pair of running shoes.