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Desjardins heading to all-Ontarios in badminton

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Three members of the Muskie badminton team excelled at the NWOSSAA championships in Thunder Bay last Wednesday, with each one bringing home a medal.

Senior player Natalie Desjardins led the Muskie charge, going undefeated in the girls’ singles division en route to the gold medal and a berth at the all-Ontarios on May 4-6 in Timmins.

It will be Desjardins’ fourth trip to the provincial showdown, having competed in the doubles and mixed doubles divisions in previous years.

Desjardins’ domination of her opponents at NWOSSAA was so complete, in fact, that she did not lose a single game over the course of the tournament. She credited her serve for her success.

“I like doing short serves now because it’s working well against those players,” she remarked. “I’m not having a hard time at all with those girls because they often can’t get to my shot and they hit theirs out on their own.”

Muskie badminton coach Manami Alexander praised Desjardins for her outstanding performance, citing her wealth of competitive experience as the main reason.

“Natalie played extremely well today [April 19] using all her skills and experience from the practices and tournaments she’s participated in since she was 11 years old,” Alexander said.

“She knows what she wants to accomplish and she puts forth lots of effort to earn it.”

Meanwhile, Japanese exchange student Akira Kikkawa put forth a gutsy effort for the Muskies at NWOSSAA on his way to the bronze medal in the boys’ singles division.

Kikkawa was hampered by a pulled calf muscle yet still managed to win two matches during the six-player round-robin portion of the tournament. That result put him into a three-way tie for third place—forcing a playoff.

He then persevered despite the injury and defeated both his opponents to claim the bronze medal.

Afterwards, Alexander applauded Kikkawa’s determined effort.

“Akira missed the ticket to OFSAA by one place [only the top two players in each division advanced to the provincials], but he played through all the matches surprisingly well in spite of his injury and earned the bronze medal to take home to Japan,” she said.

As well, the future of the Muskies’ badminton team certainly looks bright thanks to John McCormack, who was the lone junior player to advance to NWOSSAA.

McCormack lost only one game during the tournament en route to the silver medal in the boys’ singles division.

But since there’s no OFSAA tournament at the junior level, he will have to wait until next year for an opportunity to compete at the all-Ontarios.

Despite the disappointment of not being able to compete at the next level this year, McCormack said he was happy with his performance and is looking forward to returning next season.

“I want to play the singles event again next year on the senior team,” he enthused.

In related news, Hillary Hansen and Chantel Heyens of Rainy River High School also advanced to OFSAA in Timmins next week after capturing silver in the senior girls’ doubles event at NWOSSAA in Thunder Bay.

They finished with a 4-1 record.

Six others RRHS students—Carling Nordin, Nick Ashworth, Dan Usiski Jr., Molly Bartlett, Kristin Moen, and Joel Ashworth—all won bronze medals in their respective divisions.

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