Desjardins returns from OFSAA with hardware

Why is it she still gets nervous?
Simone Desjardins has been playing badminton for a decade and for whichever tournament she enters into, no matter how big or small, the 18-year-old still feels birdies flying around in her stomach.
“I just get nervous at any tournament,” said Desjardins.
But last weekend’s tournament was not only big, it was the biggest the Ontario high school league can offer, as Desjardins had advanced to OFSAA, which was held in the York Region.
It was her fourth appearance (fourth!) at the all-Ontarios and Desjardins, in a field that saw close to 40 players, claimed the third place medal in the ‘C’ senior girls’ division.
“I think I did okay,” Desjardins modestly stated.
She started the tourney against Neha Kumar (Oakville) where she would lose 15-13 and 15-11 (all matches were best-of-three), and a loss to Amy Ostner (Trenton) by scores of 15-10 and 15-8 dropped her from the ‘B’ flight into the ‘C’.
Desjardins would collect her first win with a tight decision over Cathy Daza (Cambridge) by scores of 15-11 and 17-15, but would then drop her next match to Jean Tang (Markham) by scores of 15-10 and 15-5, which put her in the third/fourth medal match (Tang would go on and win the ‘C’ gold medal).
And against Autumn Watkinson (Parry Sound), Desjardins would win in convincing fashion with scores of 15-11 and 15-8 to give her the bronze and her second medal at OFSAA (she won a third place in the ‘C’ division back in 2002 in Sudbury).
But who better to give us a brief recap of how Desjardins did than Brian Church, one of her coaches and a teacher at Fort High, who travelled with Desjardins:
Overall Simone was pleased with her performance. Her losses on Thursday were much closer than the score may indicate. Simone’s shots were very close to the line and just out on many occasions. This can be attributed to the intimidation of playing against unknown opponents in a different facility in front of many strangers.
It took Simone a little time to warm up and get motivated. These were not her best games, but the nervousness of competition soon wore off, and she began to hit her shots with confidence . . . In her final match against Autumn Watkinson, Simone was in control from the beginning.
She took the lead from the start of each set, and didn’t look back. Originally, on Friday, Autumn had forfeited the final match since she had field hockey tryouts on Saturday. Simone thought she had won the bronze medal without having to play her final match.
I received a call from the OFSAA officials later on Friday to say that Simone would have to play, and Autumn would be there. Apparently, if a competitor makes it to the finals but does not show up for their game, OFSAA will sanction their school.
This was Simone’s fourth consecutive appearance at OFSAA for badminton . . . It isn’t very often that a student makes it to OFSAA, let alone for four years in a row, since only senior players can advance to that level.
Her involvement in the local Badminton Club and excellent coaching from Manami Alexander were the major reasons she was able to do this. Simone is a talented badminton player and has shown she can battle with the best in the province. While coaching at OFSAA this year, I had several coaches from other schools comment on her excellent shot placement and intelligent play. Congratulations Simone!
Congratulations indeed.

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