As a badminton enthusiast and coach, John Morelli of St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School is looking forward to the Pan Am Games this summer.
That’s due, in part, to the fact that the sports of badminton, water polo and table tennis will be held nearby – at the brand new $78.5 million Atos Markham Pan Am Centre.
“I’ve heard it’s fantastic,” Morelli said Tuesday (April 21) at the conclusion of the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference high school badminton championships in Burlington.
“I’ll have to see about tickets. Maybe we (More players and staff) can go and watch as a team.”
The top high school badminton players from across the province will actually get their chance to compete in the Games’ 36,000-square-foot triple gymnasium before the international stars arrive. Action at the 2015 Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship tournament runs from April 30 to May 2.
Unfortunately for the St. Thomas More Knights and the other Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association teams, they didn’t qualify for the OFSAA finals this year. Athletes from Halton finished 1-2 in each of the GHAC events held at the Notre Dame gym.
The closest HWCAA got was a third place in girls’ singles by Natalie Lorenzen of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals.
St. Thomas More – team champion this year in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league for the first time since 2008 – was represented at GHAC by the mixed doubles entry of Nilou Biganian and Paul Swierkosz, the boys’ pair of Jed Jay Llandino and Hardy Montecillo, and the girls’ duo of Jeeeun Lee and Venus Orig. Athenda Montecillo of More also took part in girls’ singles.
Other players from the HWCAA were: Tyrell Hebert and Stephanie Cordeiro, Newman, mixed doubles; Anthony Torresin and Filip Arezina, Newman, boys’ doubles; Nick Favero, Newman, boys’ singles; Paige Burke and Abby Kay, Bishop Tonnos, girls’ doubles; Matthew Passalent, Cathedral, boys’ singles.
Biganian and Swierkosz were the players who fared the best at GHAC for More, advancing to the consolation semi-finals. Said Morelli: “Nilou and Paul come out to practice and work hard. They don’t goof around. They’re serious about improving their game. They communicate well on and off the court.”
The St. Thomas More badminton program has won the high school team championship at the Hamilton & District Badminton Championships for the past five consecutive years. Morelli, however, admitted that the Halton players at GHAC were tough opponents.
“Fantastic skill from the Halton side,” Morelli said. “They have a lot of club players.”
The Atos Markham Pan Am Centre also features 12.5 metre ceilings, so birdies won’t be hitting basketball nets or girders, which happens at many of the Halton and Hamilton-Wentworth high school gyms.
First and second-place finishers from GHAC qualify for OFSAA: Girls’ singles — 1. Kelly Carter, Corpus Christi, 2. Sommer Chou, Oakville Trafalgar; Girls’ doubles — 1. Laymie Carter and Dana Bennett, Assumption, 2. Alice Peng and Joyce Sun, Frank Hayden; Mixed doubles – 1. Jinyue Lui and Shoree Ding, Craig Kielburger, 2. Justin Park and Jasmine Yu, White Oaks; Boys’ singles – 1. Kevin Yap, Holy Trinity, 2. Patrick Wang, Iroquois Ridge; Boys’ doubles — 1. Dylan Thring and Bryn De Chastelain, Georgetown, 2. Ernest Wong and Nick Tiensovan, Milton District.