‘Birders’ struggle at exhibition tournament

The Muskie badminton teams struggled in their first exhibition tournament last weekend in Sioux Lookout but they had little time to fine-tune their play before the NorWOSSA qualifier today in Atikokan.
Two days to be exact.
Competing against the same squads from Atikokan, Dryden, Ignace, and Sioux Lookout, the top three teams in each division will move on to the NorWOSSA finals a week from today in Ignace (no scores were available at press time).
Part of the problem that contributed to the Muskies’ poor showing in Sioux Lookout had to do with the fact they were without their full complement of players, head coach Brian Church said.
Team members were forced to miss the exhibition action due to prior commitments to a hockey tournament in Winnipeg and the Border Figure Skating Club’s annual ice show here.
“We did pretty good last year but this year we have a lot of juniors in grade nine,” said Church. He will be assisted this year by Ludgar Rittau, who takes over from Manami Alexander.
Also helping out are students Tien-Chien Lu and Dave Slorek, former players who are ineligible this year.
“The ones who did the best were the ones back from last year,” he stressed.
Church said most players were guilty of poor serving in Sioux Lookout, leaving themselves vulnerable to a smash on the return.
“Our players have the strategy down, it’s just that they have to have more control of their shots,” he noted, adding they also needed to improve their quickness and footwork.
“They knew where they wanted to hit [the bird] but sometimes [their shots] just went a little too long,” he continued.
The Muskie team that did dominate in Sioux Lookout was the junior girls’ tandem of Siobhan Devlin and Melissa Angus, who finished in second place in their division with a 7-1 record.
The other girls’ doubles team of Kristen Wishart and Michelle Murray also did well, finishing fourth with a 5-3 mark.
But the Muskies struggled in the other divisions, with the mixed junior teams of Dan Gill-Amanda Cottertill and Travis Derksen-Nicole Murray both finishing in a tie for last place with 0-6 records.
The boys’ doubles team of Mark Soderberg and Jason Brant finished with a 1-7 record while the duo of Matt Armstrong and Tyson Storkson were winless in eight games.
Emily Gibb placed seventh in the junior girls’ division, finishing with an 0-6 record.
In senior singles action, Katie Vittie came fourth in the girls’ division with a 1-3 record while Chris Stamarski finished seventh in the boys’ division with a 2-6 mark.
Shaunna Cuthbertson and Crystal Caul teamed up for a fourth-place finish (1-3) in the senior girls’ doubles division while Mark Colvin and Courtney Calder went 0-4 in the mixed doubles division.