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Badminton duo fare well at Winnipeg tourney

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Two members of the Fort Frances Badminton Club competed at the Winnipeg City Junior Open at the Wildewood Club on the weekend.

Anika Alexander, 11, competed in the under-14 girls’ singles division and rattled off three-straight wins before losing in the final to Haley Nakonechny (21-15 and 21-16).

She had defeated the second- and third-ranked players during Friday’s matches, first topping Morgan Isaac (21-16, 21-14) and then advancing to the final with a win over Serena Lam (21-16, 21-7).

Alexander also teamed up with fellow Fort Frances player Taylor Whitehead in mixed doubles. They won their first match together, but then were ousted in the next round.

In girls’ doubles action, Alexander teamed up with Kara Chan of Winnipeg and went 1-1 through the round-robin portion to qualify for the next round, but then lost out in the quarter-finals.

Whitehead, 10, lost his first two singles’ matches in the boys’ under-12 division, then dropped a close match to Winnipeg’s Daniel Liew in the consolation final (21-14, 21-15).

He then teamed up with Liew in the boys’ under-14 doubles division, where they lost their first match to Josh Lobo and Wesley Chow (21-8, 21-10) to drop down to the consolation side.

Then they lost a close match to their next opponents to fall out of contention, including a hard-fought 22-20 loss in the opening set.

“This was Taylor’s first debut tournament in Winnipeg,” FFBC head instructor Manami Alexander noted in an e-mail to the Times.

“He was quite nervous [and] we talked about competing in Winnipeg [and how] it isn’t very easy, especially for his first time, but he gradually loosened up throughout the tournament and showed the improvement as he was going through matches after matches,” she wrote.

The participants also were treated to a badminton clinic featuring guest instructor, David Snider, who recently claimed gold in a Pan American championship event earlier this month.

“The junior players were excited to meet with this top Canadian badminton player, who is just 20 years old, and receive such a special technical workshop,” coach Alexander enthused. “He even hit the shuttlecock with the participants doing one of the drills.”

In other news, under-16 FFBC members Kimika Alexander, 14, and Rory Bagacki, 15, competed in a tournament earlier this month at the Prairie Junior Elite Open in Winnipeg.

Coach Alexander noted the competition was really stiff, with top-ranked junior players from across Canada involved, and was a real eye-opener for the local duo.

The next out-of-town event for the club will be the Winnipeg Winter Club Invitational on Nov. 7-9. Manami and Kimika Alexander will be competing, along with Tim Desjardins and Bagacki.

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