By Larry Moko
The new format for junior high school badminton this season gets a thumbs up from Julia Alfano of the Bishop Tonnos Titans.
Instead of a one-day championship tournament, organizers of the annual Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association event opted for the first time to hold the competition over two days – May 3 and 10 at F. H. Sherman Recreation Centre -- and make it a double knockout.
One hundred and forty-five players took part.
“It’s good because it’s less tiring,” said Alfano, a Grade 10 student who, along with her partner Lui Picone, captured the mixed doubles title. “Last year, if you kept winning, you’d play six games in a day. This way, you get a chance to recoup and work on more stuff at practice the week before.”
The Alfano/Picone duo won all three matches last week plus three more on Day 2. And sandwiched in between for them was several days of practice against a Tonnos boys’ doubles team.
“I played women’s singles last year and lost in the quarter-finals,” Alfano said. “I’m excited to win.”
Henry Stachurski, who helped organize the new-look tournament, said the trial run went well.
“Hopefully,” he said, “next year we’ll do this with the seniors. It’s just a little fairer. It gives the kids a true opportunity. You’ve got to lose twice before you’re knocked out.”
According to Stachurski, the only bit of a challenge to the new format was in getting players to come out for practice in between the two tournaments. That’s because they are involved in so many other sports.
The team championship went to Cardinal Newman. Coach Tom Campanella’s Cardinals edged out the second-place Bishop Tonnos Titans by one point (18-17).
In other action, first place in women’s doubles went to Natalie Schaeffer and Kennedy Couture of the St. Mary Crusaders.
The women’s singles champion was Chloe Umutoni of the Bishop Ryan Celtics.
In men’s play, Adam McLean and Mark Duarte of Bishop Tonnos took top honours in doubles, while the singles gold medal went to Nick Klemencic of Cardinal Newman.
“Nick is a hard-working, smart kid and in badminton that pays off,” Newman’s Stachurski said. “He understands the game and can read the court.”
Silver medals in the various categories went to: Kaviya Varghese and Aida Khosroabadi of Tonnos (women’s doubles); Carlene Cecchelli of St. Jean de Brebeuf (women’s singles); Anthony Ciccone and Francesco Fazzari of Cardinal Newman (men’s doubles); Michael Moran of Brebeuf (men’s singles); Luca DiFrancesco and Sierra Menechella of Newman (mixed doubles).