Coach Ming Chong of the St. Mary Crusaders says he was in a “no win, no lose” situation at the 2014 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior high school badminton championships.
He was referring to the boys’ doubles gold-medal match at the F.H. Sherman Recreation Centre on Wednesday (April 9). In that contest, one St. Mary pairing squared off against another. It was Nick Hill and Chong’s son, Nick, against Brad Grightmire and Chong’s other son, Patrick.
“I got two winners and two losers out of it,” Chong said.
Hill and Chong defeated Grightmire and the younger Chong, who is in Grade 11, 22-11, 21-14.
One hundred and eighty players from the seven HWCAA schools took part in the annual city finals. The top two finishers in each of the categories advance to the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championships, April 23, in Milton.
In other action, Ira Bugtai and Connie Wong of Cathedral took top honours in girls’ doubles with 21-12, 21-14 decision over Keana Ballitoc and Lorraine Lopez of St. Thomas More.
Daniella Balaz and Avery Clavio of Cardinal Newman captured the mixed doubles crown, 21-15, 21-8, over Maya Koshy and Mevin Mathew of Bishop Tonnos.
The girls’ singles title again went to Tina Thomas of St. Jean de Brebeuf. She defeated Camila Jorquera of Tonnos, 21-12, 21-9. And in boys’ singles, Nick Favero of Newman topped Estuardo Sanchez of Cathedral, 21-16, 21-18.
The team championship ended in a tie between Cathedral – the Gaels had won outright from 2009-13 – and Cardinal Newman.
“It was a very unique experience,” Nick Chong said of the doubles final against his brother. “I don’t think we have gone head-to-head in a particular sport, so that was really exciting. It’s good to know that both of us are going to GHAC.”
Nick Chong said it was special, too, teaming up with Hill, whom he has been a close friend with for the past 13 years. Previously, they had been singles players.
“This is my first time winning a championship after having played five years of badminton,” Nick Chong said. “I had come close a couple of times. To win it with one of my best friends is an absolute pleasure.”
Nick also gave credit to his father, who has been coaching the Crusaders for the past three years, increasing player participation levels dramatically at the school.
“They are both very athletic,” the St. Mary coach said of his winning doubles team. “They are in Grade 12 plus and will be graduating, so this is a great send off for them.”
In boys’ singles, Favero stayed healthy and prevailed in the final. Last year at the HWCAA championships, he was well ahead in the bronze-medal game but had to forfeit the match due to sprained ankle.
Thomas, who plans to attend university at either McMaster or Waterloo next fall, took the girls’ singles crown for a fourth-consecutive time.
“I feel so accomplished and thankful for the support I had today and over the years,” the Brebeuf Braves star said. “I was very nervous. But I’m happy with how I played.”
Thomas, who came to Canada from India at the age of 5, practises on weekends at the Kairali Sports Club in Hamilton. In addition, she receives private training sessions at the Burlington Cedar Springs Advanced Badminton Club. The head coach there is Boris Chiu.
“My coach, Boris, has helped me so much,” Thomas said.
This year’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations tournament is May 1-3 in Markham.
Event organizers at the HWCAA championships also announced that a new badminton club has been launched in the city. It’s the Mount Hamilton Junior Badminton Club and it’s based at the St. Thomas More gym, 1045 Upper Paradise Road. The club operates on nine courts on Wednesdays from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (now through June). It’s for anyone age 12-18.
Skill development is offered for beginners to intermediate players. The annual fee is $20 with a $20 one-time initiation. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org