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Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Rocca and Obradovich shine at St Anne badminton tournament

Matteo Rocca went at this, the sport of badminton, a little bit backwards.

Still, it does not seem to have impeded the progress of the talented grade eight student at Ecole St Denis in the least.

Rocca finished first in the boys singles competition at the St Anne Angels Intermediate Badminton Tournament at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School last weekend, and then teamed with Ashton Bélisle and Bianca Vigna to capture the Boys and Mixed Doubles divisions respectively.

"I had played baseball, but decided last year to play badminton," said Rocca. "There was no real reason." And while many a local athlete have garnered an initiation to badminton at their elementary school, developing to the point of being comfortable with a move to a more competitive outlet and the likes of the Sudbury Jr Badminton Club, Rocca threw himself directly into the high-end setting.

"There were a lot of amazing players there and I was one of the really bad ones," he confessed, with a laugh. "I couldn't even hit it over the net. They trained me to start doing the net shots and the smashes, but my first shot that I really picked up was just getting it over the net."

Despite his success in each and every bracket he entered, Rocca finds his happy place when reverting back to the milieu where it started, not all that long ago. "I prefer singles, because I have the whole court to myself," he said.

"In doubles, sometimes you get mad at your partner. Some players are better at doubles than singles."

That is likely true of Makayla Bertrand of St Anne in Hanmer, who earned a top placement in Girls Doubles play alongside Gillian Obradovich of MacLeod Public, a partner with whom she had never previously played.

"We talked about whether we were more comfortable in the front or the back, where we wanted to go," said Bertrand. "Her strength was to hit it far, and her smash is really good. I wanted to practice my play close to the net. It was fun."

Like Rocca, Bertrand acknowledged differences between the singles and doubles game, though she migrates to the opposite end of the spectrum from the boys solo champion. "I like doubles more than singles," she said.

"I like being with someone. If I can't get to the shot, I know they will be there. You have to have trust in your partner." Following are the top four finishers, from all five of the categories that were contested at the annual event that is hosted by elementary teacher Francois Viau:

Boys Singles
1st - Matteo Rocca (St Denis)
2nd - Blake Rosener (St Charles College)
3rd - Isaac Michel (St Denis)
4th - Madix Lavoie (Ste Marie)

Girls Singles
1st - Gillian Obradovich (MacLeod Public)
2nd - Ariane Cousineau (Notre Dame - Hanmer)
3rd - Kennedy Bellefeuille (Notre Dame - Hanmer)
4th - Bianca Vigna (St Denis)

Boys Doubles
1st - Ashton Bélisle/Matteo Rocca (St Denis)
2nd - Tanner Rollins/Alex Chartier (St John)
3rd - James Bertrim/Nolan Kuhlberg (Lo-Ellen)
4th - Carson Robert/Madix Lavoie (Ste Marie)

Girls Doubles
1st - Makayla Bertrand (St Anne)/Gillian Obradovich (MacLeod)
2nd - Abby Bélanger/Zoé Asselin (Ste Marie)
3rd - Kennedy Bellefeuille/Breanna Lemaire (Notre Dame - Hanmer)
4th - Ella Minor/Bianca Vigna (St Denis)

Mixed Doubles
1st - Matteo Rocca/Bianca Vigna (St Denis)
2nd - Tanner Rollins/Taryn Rollins (St John)
3rd - Tyson (St Anne)/Gillian Obradovich (MacLeod)
4th - Isaac Troscinski/Makayla Bertrand (St Anne)

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