High school badminton champions crowned

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North Park Collegiate’s Niamh Kukla and Lily Song are hoping a hometown advantage next week will lead to a second badminton championship.

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Song and Kukla captured the junior girls badminton championship on Wednesday at St. John’s College during the Athletic Association of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk tournament.

The pair will compete at the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship on April 20 at Brantford Collegiate Institute. Normally, CWOSSA is held in Kitchener-Waterloo so the NPC duo will try to use the fact it’s being played in Brantford to their advantage.

“I know we’re facing some harder competition because we’re going to be facing teams from places we haven’t played before and this tournament was all teams we’ve played before,” Kukla said.

“The good thing is we’re on familiar territory,” added Song. “It’s going to be at BCI instead of Waterloo. We have the chance to warm up quicker because everyone is coming from everywhere. ”

For Kukla and Song, their partnership was a long time coming.

The pair went to elementary school with each other and each played singles. They were planning on making a change but that was halted due to the pandemic.

“In Grade 8, before COVID-19, we were going to do doubles together but then it got shut down,” Kukla said.

When the high school championship resumed this season after a two-year absence, they finally got together as a team.

“Our coach. . . She decided to pair us up together because, one, we’ve known each other since elementary and, two, we’re singles players and know how to dominate the court, “said Song.

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Now they’ll get a chance to cement their partnership even further next week.

BOYS DOUBLES

Brantford Collegiate Institute’s Christiansen Adiwinata and Andrew Nemeth made a splash in their Grade 9 badminton season.

The pair not only captured the boys double championship, they did it by going unbeaten.

Nemeth said they weren’t surprised at their result because, during the badminton exhibition season, they experienced success.

“We had a tight match against North Park, which was 21-15,” said Nemeth. “That was the one tough match.”

“We wanted first place,” Adiwinata said of the team’s goal on Wednesday. “We were going for the win.”

Now that they have the championship under their belts, the goal is to do the same thing at CWOSSA next week although they know it won’t be easy.

“I’m excited,” Nemeth said. “We want to get (first) but we’re not sure. It’s going to be harder. “

MIXED DOUBLES

Duncan Sanderson and Abigail Nichols may have previous experience playing badminton but that didn’t mean they were confident at the AABHN championship.

“Today, we were kind of nervous because it was such a big (tournament) and we knew everyone was going to be trying their best,” said Sanderson.

“When we got playing we got used to it.”

That was obvious as the Grade 9 team was able to capture the mixed doubles championship.

Nichols said the partnership may have been new but they had past history.

“We’ve played before,” said Nichols, who thanked her coaches and praised her opponents. “Years ago we were at the same club so we’ve known each other.”

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During the AABHN exhibition season the BCI pair won all its games but one so they knew going into the championship tournament a title was possible.

With the championship, they now want another one at CWOSSA.

“Our goal is to get first, hopefully, but we’re just going to try our best and see what happens,” Sanderson said.

BOYS SINGLES

North Park Collegiate’s Alex Hallet won the boys singles championship.

His North Park Collegiate teammate Matthew Tinker was originally declared the champion after winning the rubber match against Hallet on Wednesday. Hallet had defeated Tinker in the first match of the day. However, organizers reviewed the results and realized that Hallett was the winner based on tournament rules.

GIRLS SINGLES

A switch in sports led to added success for Pauline Johnson Collegiate’s Sophie Vandenbrink.

A top-ranked squash player, the Grade 9 student used some of those skills to capture the girls singles championship at the AABHN badminton tournament.

Despite her past experience with a racquet sport, Vandenbrink surprised herself on Wednesday.

“It’s really cool because I didn’t think I would be able to (win),” she said.

Vandenbrink probably should have been more confident as she’s ranked 10th in Ontario and 12th in Canada for squash. She’s a member of PJ’s SOAR – Strength Opportunity Achievement and Results – program, which is aimed at student athletes.

“I’d love to play at nationals again and do that as an adult,” she said of her squash goals. “I was at nationals in October and I was 14th.”

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Vandenbrink, who hasn’t come up with a goal for CWOSSA, said her plan at the AABHN was simple.

“I had no expectation,” she said. “I wanted to have fun, see what I could do and push the boundaries.”

North Park won the team championship with 39 points, followed by BCI (20), PJC (20), PDHS (19) and SJC (12).

The following are players who placed second and third (in order of finish) at the AABHN championships. (First- and second-place finishers advance to the CWOSSA championships on April 20 at BCI): boys singles, Matt Luscombe (NPC), Quintyn Luscombe (PJC); girls singles, Simran Gursimran, SJC and Amera Iqbal, PJC; boys doubles, Ashton Stefan and Derek Colling, NPC and Gavin Bernard and Trudeau Gulats, PDHS; girls doubles, Harper North and Bianka Krushat, (PDHS) and Eva Petittiparler and Leanne Moore, SJC; and mixed doubles, Isaac Halsey and Lauren Cohoon, PDHS, and Bhumi Shan and Alex Colton, NPC.

The AABHN senior badminton championships were held Thursday at BCI.

North Park won the team championship with 36 points, followed by BCI (32), and PDHS.

Individual winners were (in order of finish, first to third):

Boys singles – Bennett Spivak (BCI), Braeden Doucette (PDHS), Noah Johnston (NPC)

Girls singles – Joy Shen (ACS), Jesslyn Miller (NPC), Brenna Mitchell (NPC)

Boys doubles – Matt Denis / Ty Birdsell (BCI), Chris Barkley / Pierson Doyle (NPC), Josiah Kronenburg / Owen DeBruyen (BCI)

Girls doubles – Chloe Duval / Cassidy Chapin (PJC), Taylor Legg / Robin Farr (NPC), Paige Turner / Hannah Rodgers (PDHS)

Mixed doubles – Jordan Kingshott / Josh Grieve (NPC), Ashton & Cameron Spivak (BCI), Georgia Elliott / Connor Koekoek (PDHS)

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