Jackson Arpin had a goal in mind heading into the OFSAA badminton championships held last Thursday through Saturday in North Bay–and that was to earn a medal.
Although he fell short of that goal, ending play with a 3-3 record and finishing shy of the ‘B’-consolation side final, the Rainy River Owls standout still was pleased with his performance at what was the final all-Ontario appearance of his high school career.
“Jackson is a true competitor,” lauded Owls’ coach Guy Arpin, who also is Jackson’s father.
“Of course he wanted to go farther and had a goal set to try to medal in the ‘B’ Flight.
“He knows that he played well and that the Open level players play badminton year-round and they are very skilled at what they do,” he noted.
“At the end of the day, yeah he is happy with his performance.”
Last year in Windsor, OFSAA tried something new by creating two divisions in boys’ and girls’ singles.
As each association could send two representatives, only one rep could be a club player (open division) while the other had to be a high school player (high school division).
All 40 players started out in ‘A’ flight and in most cases, the first-round games matched up an open division player against a high school division player.
As the tournament plays out (first and second rounds), players who lose would drop down a division.
Open players could go no lower than the ‘B’ flight and therefore only high school division players would be in the ‘C’ flight.
Arpin opened play this year in the ‘A’ Flight with a two-set win over fellow high school division player Matteo Palumbo (SWOSSAA) with scores of 21-13 and 21-14.
But Arpin then lost his second match against an open division player in Jeff Zhang (WOSSAA) by scores of 18-21 and 17-21, which dropped him down into the ‘B’ Flight.
This was an extremely hard fought match by both players,” Guy Arpin recalled.
In his first match in the ‘B’ flight, Jackson Arpin cruised to a two-set (21-19/21-13) victory over another open division player in Dhruv Thakkar (LOSSA).
“This was a huge game for Jackson as Thakkar–a club player from Markham–was very strong technically and Jackson had to battle for every point as his opponent made very few mistakes,” Guy Arpin noted.
“It was Jackson’s smash that gave him opportunities for points in this match.”
But Jackson Arpin was unable to keep that momentum going as he dropped his next match in three sets (18-21, 21-14, and 16-21) to open division player Marco Brazeau (NOSSA).
That loss relegated Jackson Arpin to the ‘B’-side consolation bracket, where he ironically squared off against Palumbo in a rematch of their ‘A’ Flight meeting.
The matchup worked into Arpin’s favour once again as he prevailed in straight sets by scores of 21-16 and 21-11.
“As the draw worked out, these two players met again,” Guy Arpin remarked.
“Palumbo put up an early charge but Jackson powered through and quickly took control of this match.”
Jackson Arpin’s OFSSA experience then came to an end with a two-set loss (16-21/13-21) to an open division player in Ryan Molin (ROPSSAA).
“Jackson and Ryan were very evenly matched when it came to the basic shots of badminton, the advantage that Ryan had was he was deceptive with every shot,” Guy Arpin recalled.
“He would disguise every shot and if Jackson committed to one shot, he would do something else at the last possible second.
“This loss brought Jackson’s OFSAA experience to an end,” he added.
“He finished in about seventh place in the ‘B’ Flight, which was probably the highest finish for a high school division player.”
Guy Arpin felt that Jackson played confidently in his abilities at OFSAA and that nobody worked harder than his son did.
“He has the huge blisters to prove it,” he reasoned. “A few coaches from other teams said that they remembered him from last year and how hard he worked on the court and the incredible effort he put into every rally.
It was very nice to hear,” he enthused.
Guy Arpin also noted that the level of badminton at OFSAA is nothing like we see around here in Northwestern Ontario and that it is “truly amazing.”
“Knowing that you can compete with many of the club players, without the opportunities for improvement that they have, is satisfying,” he said.
“Also, when a club player takes you for granted because you are in the high school division and you turn around and beat them . . . It feels good,” Guy Arpin enthused.
Being that this was Jackson’s final OFSAA, Guy Arpin said that he wanted to leave it all out there and that he definitely did that.
“As a coach I am very pleased with his effort level and commitment to getting better,” he lauded.
“I know the time he puts in to get better. He would spend hours on the tiniest details because that is the difference at the higher levels,” he stressed.
“A small thing is a big thing!
“As his father, I am very proud of his accomplishments both on and off the court,” Guy Arpin lauded.
“He is a great representative for our high school, as well as Northern Ontario as a whole!”