Three of the five NOSSA badminton champions that were crowned last week in Sudbury were local SDSSAA entries, though each carries with them their own unique process in making their way through to the all-Ontario high school tournament that will run from May 2nd to the 4th at Ecole secondaire l'Odysée in North Bay.
An exchange student who arrived at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School from her native home in Japan only months ago, Rina Nagashima can likely boast the most fascinating story, as there is much about the quiet teenager that sets her apart.
“Her style of play is different from what we are used to seeing around here, even just the way that she holds her racquet,” noted Bears badminton coach and tournament organizer Troy Brushett. “Her footwork is bang on. She recognizes how much she has to move around on the court.”
As much as Brushett can appreciate everything that the NOSSA singles girls champion can bring to the table, sharing those thoughts is not always easy. “I try and communicate the best I can with her, and give her some pointers here and there, and hope that she understands a little of what I'm saying,” he stated. “So far, so good.”
“I like to hit and attack, because my backhand is not as good as my forehand,” added Nagashima, still very much in the early phases of feeling completely comfortable with the language in her temporary new home. She added that although she had been playing badminton for about three years in Japan, there are still plenty of daily adjustments that need to be made, both on the court and off.
“We had snow in Japan, but only about a centimeter,” she noted with a smile.
Joining Nagashima as local entries who topped the podium were the women's doubles team of Angelina Lam and Mackenzie Watkins, making a return trip to OFSAA and proudly representing the Marymount Regals. The duo, which captured silver in the “C” flight last May in Windsor, topped their NOSSA bracket for the second time this year, besting Hannah Boyonoski and Hailey Telik of Superior Heights in the final.
The local tandem have progressed in a steadfast fashion in recent years, moving from midget bronze medal winners in 2016 to junior champions and finally northern Ontario senior silver medallists last spring at this time.
Rounding out the troika of Sudbury gold medal recipients are the grade 11 Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes mixed doubles pairing of Miguel Paquette and Karine Boucher. Second place finishers in 2017 (midget mixed doubles) who took the next step in 2018 (junior mixed doubles), the CND reps will make their inaugural appearance at OFSAA next month after stopping Daniel Kerr and Geneviève Martel of Franco Cité in the final.
With talented mixed partner Amelina Iturregui sidelined with a concussion this spring, Lo-Ellen senior Ethan Rogers will return to provincials in a different grouping, joining forces with multi-sport athlete Eric Dissanayake in the boys doubles competition. Rogers and Dissanayake finished third at NOSSA, losing to champions Ben and Fred Houle (Jeunesse Nord) in the second round, and to Dillon Laberge and Pierre Legrand (Algonquin) in the semis.
“In mixed doubles, traditionally, the girl is taking the front court and you're serving behind them and covering the back court,” noted Rogers of the most glaring differences in the styles of play he has attempted to master in the past two years. “In (boys) doubles, there's a lot more rotation, so you're moving both side to side and front and back.”
“You're playing everywhere, anywhere you need to be.”
Rounding out the NOSSA championship list is Senior Boys first place finisher Marco Brazeau of Franco Cité, while additional Sudbury teenagers who will compete in North Bay in three weeks time include city senior boys champion Dominik Brunette-Royer (CND - 2nd place – Boys Singles) and Justin Tremblay (Horizon - 5th place – Boys Singles).
Additionally, five other SDSSAA badminton enthusiasts managed to reach the pinnacle of their classification in midget and junior NOSSA competition, with 18 locals finding their way on to the podium in those two age categories alone.
NOSSA gold medal winners covered off three local schools, with both Lo-Ellen Park Secondary (Max McCue/Mitchell Martin – Jr Boys Doubles; Amanda Symington/Molly Lafantaisie – Midget Girls Doubles) and Collège Notre-Dame (Mathieu Boucher – Midget Boys Singles; Renée Proulx – Junior Girls Singles) accounting for two each, and the Macdonald-Cartier tandem of Zander Lauzen and Ella Kissner (Midget Mixed Doubles) capping things off.
Following is a full listing of the remaining 13 SDSSAA medal winners at NOSSA:Junior Division
BOYS SINGLES – Silver – Taylor Foucault (Lively); Bronze – Sean Potts (CND)
GIRLS DOUBLES – Silver – Zoe Smith/Tyanne Ewing-Bui (ESMC); Bronze – Naomi Palmer/Jasmine Larivière (Sacré Coeur)
MIXED DOUBLES – Silver - Jacob Brunette/Abiguèle Perreault (Horizon)
GIRLS SINGLES – Bronze – Eryn Long (Sacré Coeur)
BOYS DOUBLES – Bronze – Mathieu Lemieux/Noah Perreault (Horizon)
BOYS DOUBLES – Silver – Brian Fink/Jacob Lamothe (ESMC); Bronze – Zachary Brunette/Caleb Perreault (Horizon)
GIRLS DOUBLES – Silver – Charlotte Cloutier/McKinley Paul (Horizon)
MIXED DOUBLES – Silver – Michael Yao/Allison Symington (Lo-Ellen)
BOYS SINGLES – Bronze – Lincoln McCourt (Bishop Carter)
GIRLS SINGLES – Bronze – Hayley Bertrand (Sacré Coeur)