The Waterloo Warriors look to defend their Ontario University Athletics title at the 2011 OUA badminton championship at the University of Western Ontario.
The three-day event which runs from Friday (March 18) to Sunday (March 20) will see seven teams take to the court in search of gold. With no playoff or cross-over elimination this year, McMaster, Queen’s, Ryerson, Toronto, Waterloo, Western, and York all have the chance to take home the title.
The championship consists of five events: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Each event consists of a qualification draw and a main event championship draw.
History will be on the side of both the Western Mustangs and Waterloo Warriors on Sunday, having faced each other in the last seven OUA finals.
Western may have the upper hand as last year’s OUA male most valuable player and rookie of the year Martin Guiffre (Calgary) returns for the Mustangs.
The Warriors will rely on experience as 2008 award winners Andrew Tai-Pow (Toronto) and Evan McDonald (Brantford) continue to shine for Waterloo.
Outside of Western and Waterloo, the Toronto Varsity Blues was the last team to win the championship in 2003. The Blues roster has a few vacancies from last season’s bronze medal team. They will play without 2009-10 OUA female most valuable player Shilin Cheung and female rookie of the year, Michelle Li. Not a problem for the Toronto women, as eight-time OUA all-star Melissa Hill (Oakville) once again returns to the court.
The York Lions and Queen’s Gaels are the two other teams to have won the league championship in 1998-99 and 1997-98, respectively.
The Lions will be lead by Erik Chong (Richmond Hill) who won the men’s singles title at York’s Second Invitational Tournament in February.
Standout players on the Queen’s roster this season are Jason Lao (Toronto) and Paul Au (Winnipeg).
When the competition was still split into a men’s league and a women’s league, the McMaster Marauders took the 1977-78 women’s title. The Marauders return last year’s McMaster badminton most valuable player Allison Bennett (Oakville).
The Ryerson Rams are the only team competing this weekend without a badminton title, and hope to upset the field. The duo of Kyle Wong Chew Onn (Markham) and Thai Truong (Cornwall) are strong for the Rams in men’s doubles. They’ll look to continue on their success from November’s Toronto City College/University Challenge where they won their match over York.
The event is open to all spectators and free of charge. Results will be posted each day on the Ontario badminton Association website: http://www.ontariobadminton.on.ca/ and on the Western Mustangs website: http://westernmustangs.ca.