Monday, July 28, 2014

Whitehead pleased with OFSAA result

He had one less win and lasted three fewer matches than last year.
So why is Taylor Whitehead smiling?

That’s because the lone Muskie representative at last week’s OFSAA badminton championships in Markham believes his 2-2 record—and third-round ouster in the ‘B’ Flight of the boys’ singles competition—was a definite upgrade over his 3-4 mark of a year ago, when he finished fourth in the ‘C’ Flight.
“It’s much better to lose out in the ‘B’ Flight,” reasoned Whitehead, who already is a two-time NorWOSSA and NWOSSAA champion despite being only in Grade 10 at Fort High.
“It was still a good experience . . . most of the guys that were competitive with me this year were in Grade 12,” he noted.
“So I’m thinking next year, I should be able to stay on the ‘A’ side of the draw for quite a while,” Whitehead added.
“There will be a lot less size difference between myself and them on the court.”
Whitehead’s result last year left him 30th out of the 38 participants in the tournament.
But with his success in the ‘B’ Flight this time around, he was able to improved that to between 17th and 24th, although there was no specific ranking as other players were eliminated in the same round of the ‘B’ Flight as Whitehead was.
Muskie coach Brian Church also was satisfied with Whitehead’s performance.
“Overall, I was very happy with Taylor’s performance and wouldn’t be surprised if he returns next year to place in the medals,” he lauded.
“He was very competitive against the stronger players in his pool and easily could have been in the medals had just a few more close calls gone his way,” Church added.
“Although disappointed immediately following his final [match], Taylor realizes how he has improved over last year’s performance and is rightfully proud of his achievement,” he said.
“He is already looking forward to next year’s season and having another opportunity to compete with the best in the province.”
Whitehead began his run in Markham last Thursday with a 2-1 loss (21-18, 17-21, and 21-11) to Shawn Jagmohan of the Toronto area.
“My downfall in that one was that I wasn’t used to matches going three games,” explained Whitehead, who went a perfect 10-0 during NorWOSSA and NWOSSAA competition this season.
“I wasn’t pushed that much during NorWOSSA and NWOSSAA play, so I was still getting used to high-pressure situations,” he reasoned.
“His first loss in the ‘A’ event was disappointing since it was such a close match,” echoed Church.
“However, Taylor knew his opponent placed either seventh or eighth last year in the ‘A’ event.
“So taking him to three games and being competitive was a great start to the competition.”
Dropped down to the ‘B’ Flight, Whitehead picked up his game to sweep Joseph Choi of the Southern Association 2-0 (21-18/21-9) later Thursday.
“I found more confidence in that second match and I knew better what I was doing,” Whitehead said.
That put him up against Chris Murphy of the Georgian Bay region in the second round of the ‘B’ Flight on Friday morning, with Whitehead again emerging victorious 2-0 (21-16/21-19).
“Although Chris was a strong player, Taylor was in control throughout the match and made fewer errors than Chris,” Church recalled.
“This match was a bit closer than his first in the ‘B’ Flight, but Taylor was confident and played a smart game.”
With every match at this point a win-or-go-home scenario, Whitehead brought everything he could to the table against Duncan Phillips of the Peel district later Friday.
But Phillips proved too powerful and held on for a 2-1 victory (21-18, 14-21, and 21-14) en route to capturing the bronze medal in the ‘B’ Flight.
“That last guy had probably the fastest smash I’ve ever seen,” said Whitehead, referring to Phillips’ power game.
“Taylor was confident entering the third and final game,” noted Church.
“[But] Duncan upped his energy level a bit and returned to the smashing game that was successful in Game 1,” he remarked.
“Taylor had some difficulty in the third game with a few missed shots and Duncan’s elevated attack.”
So are there medal hopes in Whitehead’s future?
“I’m not sure about a medal, but I think I can definitely make it to the double-elimination round in the ‘A’ Flight, which would mean at least a spot in the quarter-finals,” predicted Whitehead.
He also wasn’t concerned about keeping his focus through the earlier part of next season.
“I think NorWOSSA and NWOSSAA will just be preparation for OFSAA,” he reasoned.
“There’s no one rising up the ranks except one kid in Thunder Bay,” Whitehead noted.
“If I keep training like I have been and keep going to tournaments to practice, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Hok Lo (York Region) was the ‘A’ Flight champion while Eric Hui (Peel District) captured the ‘B’ Flight.
Griffin Nogas (Conference of Independent Schools Association) claimed top honours in the ‘C’ Flight.
Editor’s note: Hayley and Skylar Arpin of the Rainy River Owls captured the ‘B’ Flight silver medal in girls’ doubles action at OFSAA.

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