It will arguably go down as one of the biggest moments in Redeemer Royals history. Redeemer’s Owen Kurvits capped off the greatest season by an individual in school history by winning the national championship in Men’s Singles badminton, Redeemer’s first ever in any sport.
Kurvits captured the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association gold medal Saturday (March 7) in Halifax.
Redeemer’s badminton star defeated Humber’s Jesse Assing in a nail-biting three set match to capture the historic title. The gold medal finale was a rematch of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association championship match as well as the first round robin match of the national event. Kurvits defeated Assing in two straight in the OCAA final but fell to the Humber opponent in three games in the opening match of the national championship.
The rubber match proved to be similar to their latest meeting, with Kurvits taking the first game, and Assing taking the second. This time, however, unlike their match on Thursday, Kurvits grabbed an early lead in the third set and never let it go. Set scores 21-10, 9-21, 21-13.
Head coach Benno Kurvits broke down the match saying, “Owen played great! He was playing so aggressively and well early on I was getting concerned that he could not keep up that pace. Then mistakes in the second game cost him.
“It was tight in the third until he was able to start pulling away late. Certainly some tense moments but he hung in there and fought hard.”
The CCAA gold medal is the icing on the cake for Kurvits and Coach Benno. Owen finishes the 2014-15 season having captured almost every major award and title available to him. Provincial gold, OCAA player of the year honors, CCAA All-Canadian honors, and national gold can all be added to his resume.
After losing the first match of the Championship, Kurvits swept through the competition, winning his next four round robin matches. He followed that up with a straight-sets win over Matthew Chan (PACWEST) in the semi-final, and then the third set win against Assing in the final.
In just his second year at Redeemer University College, Owen has gone from a fourth place finish in 2013-14 to being crowned national champion this season.
The support from Redeemer University College, from Hamilton, and from his friends and family was very evident as seen through a fury of activity on social media. Before, throughout, and following the match, fans took to Facebook and Twitter, offering their best wishes and congratulations to the champion.
The support was not unnoticed by a very humble Kurvits. After the match, Owen commented, “to be honest, I’m pretty overwhelmed with the amount of support I received from everyone back home. I know it might sound a bit cliche, but it gave me some extra energy for the finals which was a great feeling and sincerely helped my game.”
When asked about the match, Owen gave a lot of credit to Assing both in his on-camera interview and in his post-match comments to Redeemer. “I knew it was going to be a great finish to the season playing against my good buddy and rival”, said Kurvits. “Second set was a little shaky but I changed my game plan a bit for the third. That proved to be the difference in the match against such a great opponent”.
For coach Benno, it is a unique experience, offering support to Owen as his coach but also as his father. Benno admittedly, and understandably, was quite nervous heading into Saturday, as a coach and father of an individual set to compete in a national final.
“I slept well the first two nights here”, mentioned Benno, “but I admit I did not sleep very well last night. I woke up very early and had a very difficult time sleeping after that.”