Another season, another trip to the all-Ontarios for Jackson Arpin.
The Rainy River Owl standout continued his dominance this season with an impressive 5-0 showing en route to claiming gold in senior boys' singles at the NWOSSAA badminton championships held last Wednesday in Thunder Bay.
Arpin now advances to OFSAA for the third time in his brilliant career, which kicks off tomorrow and runs through Saturday in North Bay.
“Jackson stepped up his game another notch and won the gold medal without losing a set,” lauded Owls' coach Guy Arpin, who also is Jackson's father.
“His previous OFSAA experiences definitely showed as he was very composed when matches got tough and patiently picked his opponents apart, capitalizing on any weakness that he saw.”
Arpin was truly dominant against his opponents at NWOSSAA last week, winning each match in two sets to book yet another trip to the all-Ontarios.
That included wins over opponents from the Sioux Lookout Warriors (21-4/21-6), St. Patrick Saints (21-6/21-12 and 21-16/21-9), Superior Gryphons (21-5/21-6), and Lake Superior Stingers (21-6/21-4).
“This will be Jackson's third trip to OFSAA for badminton. Last year, he won the silver medal in the 'C' Flight which was an incredible accomplishment,” Guy Arpin recalled.
“His goal this year is to play 'his' game and try to get into medal contention again," he noted, adding that "The competition level is through the roof at OFSAA!”
The Owls' junior girls' doubles duo of Madison Kreger and Tala Quran, meanwhile, compiled a 1-4 record to finish shy of advancing to the all-Ontarios.
The matches were close, however, as they dropped their first two to opponents from the Atikokan Voyageurs (11-21/8-21) and Marathon Falcons (20-22, 21-8, and 10-21).
Kreger and Quran then rebounded with their lone win over a pair of Saints' opponents (21-10/21-19), before dropping their final two matches to the Manitouwadge Wolverines (21-11, 12-21, and 12-21) and Westgate Tigers (22-20, 18-21, and 19-21).
“Madison and Tala played very well and were competitive in every match,” Arpin lauded.
“Being their first time at an NWOSSAA championships, they were quite nervous—but their play didn't show that,” he stressed.
“As their scores show, they were in every match and should be very proud of their performance.”
As for the Muskies, their lone representatives—the senior girls' doubles tandem of Tayah Badiuk and Lauryn Marchant—just missed out on their second-straight trip to the all-Ontarios as they wound up in third place with a 3-2 record.
Badiuk and Marchant faced some adversity right off the hop in their first match of the day against the Voyageurs' duo of Tia Alexiuk and Sarah Ribey.
The Muskie duo won the first set 22-20, but Marchant's shoulder dislocated briefly before popping right back into place.
“She said happens occasionally and should not be a problem. This was followed by a loss of 16-21 in which the team made some uncharacteristic unforced errors, which the opponents were able to take advantage of,” said Muskie coach Brian Church.
“Some drop shots were coming over the net at a much higher height than desirable, which allowed Atikokan to attack. As well, some shots were landing just out of bounds, or being hit into the net.”
Badiuk and Marchant then ended up dropping the match with a 21-10 loss in the third-and-deciding set.
“I think the frustration of not making shots that are usually pretty routine for the girls began to affect their play in a negative way,” Church conceded.
“They lost the third set 10-21. Not the start to the day they were hoping for, but they also realized that the Atikokan team was probably their toughest competition and they still had a good chance of advancing to OFSAA,” he noted.
But Badiuk and the ailing Marchant were able to rebound with a trio of wins against Lindsey and Gemmell of the Saints (21-7/21-12), Borutski and Nyasulu of the Stingers (21-12/21-11), and Gysen and DeJong of the Tigers (21-8/21-4).
“The second, third, and fourth matches were typical games for Tayah and Lauryn. They dominated play and no opponent could score more than 12 points,” Church lauded.
“Although as the day progressed, Lauryn's shoulder began to hurt more—and she eventually taped it up—which reduced mobility of her racket arm,” he conceded.
“We intently watched as Atikokan played our final opponents from Marathon. This was another match which took three sets to decide. Marathon won 14-21, 25-23, and 21-14, setting up the possibility of a three-way tie for first place if Fort could defeat the Marathon team,” he added.
But the Muskies were unable to beat the Wolverines duo of Zawadski and Gervais, falling in three sets by scores of 18-21, 21-16, and 16-21.
“The final match was a tight one which started with a close set of 18-21. Lauryn's shoulder pain was preventing her from being able to clear the birdie to the back of the court, but she adjusted by relying on more precision shots and bird placement,” Church recalled.
“They rebounded with a 21-16 victory in the second set, and seemed to have control. In the third set, they got behind early and were fighting hard, but still falling victim to some unforced errors similar to those in their first match,” he lamented.
“The final set ended at 16-21, meaning that Marathon would take first place, Atikokan second, and Fort would end up in third place—earning them the bronze medal.”
Church said that both Badiuk and Marchant were obviously upset with the outcome at NWOSSAA, having hoped to qualify for OFSAA once again, but they played strong and smart all day.
“Most of their missed shots were the right play for the situation and had their opponents beat, but landed just out of bounds or hit the top of the net,” he reasoned.
“They will be back next year, stronger and better and hopefully get their chance to play at OFSSA,” he vowed.
"They had a great season but a last minute injury—and a few missed shots—relegated them to a third-place finish.
“Something to still be proud of,” Church stressed.