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Strong season for local 'birders'

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Members of the Fort Frances Badminton Club have fared well over the past several months.

The squad travelled to Brandon, Man. for the Yonex Westman Open on Nov. 20, where Tayah Badiuk and Lauryn Marchant earned a first-place finish in the girls' U17 division.

The pair played hard, with only one of their matches needing a third set to capture the gold medal.

In the boys' U19 division, Aaron Bujold had no problem eliminating all of his opponents in straight sets to also nab gold.

Bujold and his father/coach, Louis, teamed up for the men's doubles division and managed to claim the 'B' title.

Aaron Bujold and Lauryn Marchant then joined forces for the U19 mixed doubles, dominating their division in winning another gold.

The two players continued their good court chemistry, giving the adult players a run for their money, which resulted in a second-place finish in the adult mixed doubles 'C' division.

The club's next tournament was the Eastman Open held Jan. 28 in Steinbach, Man.

Again, the members who managed to make the trip found it to be a great learning experience, as well as an opportunity to play and watch players at a high level of competition.

Dakota Jernberg earned top spot in the U19 boys' singles 'C' division, then teamed up with Aaron Bujold to snag a second-place finish in the U19 boys' doubles 'A' division.

Aaron Bujold also had a great showing in the men's singles division. Playing men 10 years his senior, he captured the 'C' division crown with a hard-fought match against Jesse Heibert (Winnipeg) by scores of 16-21, 21-18, and 21-13.

The Thunder Bay Badminton Club then hosted an open tournament March 2 and the Fort Frances club made its mark on the big city.

The members have put in a lot of work, and hours of practice, during this year and past years—and are starting to be rewarded for it.

Isabelle Ward claimed first in girls' U19 singles.

Tayah Badiuk and Lauryn Marchant continued their winning ways, meanwhile, by placing first in girls' U19 doubles.

Dakota Jernberg received another confidence-booster with a gold medal in boys' U19 singles.

Badiuk and Jernberg then teamed up in the mixed doubles and placed a respectable fourth.

Jernberg also claimed the top spot by winning gold in boys' U19 doubles.

While most of the club was participating in the Thunder Bay tourney, a key member was 1,600-km away in Barrie participating in the Ontario Winter Games.

Aaron Bujold, along with 11 other Northern Ontario members, were chosen by the Northern Ontario Badminton Association to represent the region at the Games.

The format is based on a team concept, with players able to play in more than one division (singles, doubles, and mixed) while also earning points for their region.

Aaron Bujold ended up winning three-of-10 matches, with three of those losses going the distance.

The level of play was very high and the atmosphere was electric.

With these Games, and tournament experience, the players are feeling confident heading into the high school badminton season (which kicks off March 28) and look forward for a chance to represent Fort High at the OFSAA championships May 3-5 in Windsor.

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