Desjardins overcomes slow start

Muskie Simone Desjardins’ trip to the all-Ontario badminton showdown in Sudbury last week—where she earned the bronze medal in the ‘C’ flight—was both an eye-opener and learning experience.
“I’m really happy with how far I got. I never expected it. I thought it was going to be a lot harder,” said Desjardins, who played in the senior girls’ singles event as a Grade 9 student because of her experience at the local club level.
Desjardins brought home the Muskies’ first-ever OFSAA medal in badminton. But earning one of the 12 medals up for grabs in her division at Sudbury out of a field of 38 players also was impressive, said senior team head coach Manami Alexander.
“Those were some of the best young players in Ontario,” she noted. “Simone must be very proud to do what she did.”
Desjardins, 15, said nervousness about playing on the large gym surfaces at Cambrian College was a factor in the early going.
“I was [a little nervous],” she admitted. “There was a lot more people watching.”
She definitely got off to a rocky start last Thursday, losing 15-2/15-1 to Tarra Brazeau (Rockland) in her opening match and then 15-12/15-4 to Kristin Wilson (Brantford) in the ‘B’ flight.
After rebounding to beat Shannon Hughes (Toronto) by scores of 15-6/15-3 in the ‘C’ flight quarter-finals on Friday, Desjardins lost 15-7/15-2 to Uma Kuga (Brampton) in the semi-finals.
Undaunted, Desjardins came back Saturday to win the ‘C’ bronze-medal match over Melissa Hopkinson (Thunder Bay). She lost the first set 15-12 but took the last two 15-6 and 15-5 in what was her best match of the weekend.
“[Hopkinson] had beaten me before [at the NWOSSAA finals] so I’m happy I was able to get that win,” said Desjardins, who finished with a 15-4 record overall in high school play this season.
Although her goal was to win, Desjardins said her time in Sudbury also gave her a chance to get to know the other NWOSSAA competitors from Dryden, Kenora, and Thunder Bay, as well as other players from across the province.
“Normally we don’t get a chance to talk during the season,” said Desjardins, who went to Sudbury with Alexander, FFHS rep Brian Church, and her father, Ken. “So it was nice to get friendly with them.”
In all, the 10-player NWOSSAA contingent captured four medals.
Desjardins was the only player to represent the Muskies at the provincials. Her two wins also equalled the program’s total in the past 10 years.
“We’re looking to improve. We were hoping to send more than one person this year but I think we had a strong year overall,” said Alexander, who coached three NWOSSAA entries this year.
The team will see only one player—Tyson Storkson—graduate this spring.
With four more years of eligibility still ahead, Desjardins said a return to OFSAA is a definite goal for next season. “I’d like to get back. I just need to work on all my weak points.”
“This was a good experience for her,” added Alexander. “I think if she continues to work hard, she will have a chance to compete and do well at the ‘A’ level.”