More Muskies bound for all-Ontarios

Simone Desjardins has kept alive her OFSAA streak, qualifying for the all-Ontarios in badminton for the third-straight year.
Desjardins will be heading to Ajax on May 6-8 after capturing gold in the senior girls’ singles event at the NWOSSAA playoffs here last Wednesday, finishing in top spot with 10 points.
Desjardins first attended the all-Ontarios in 2002 in Sudbury, winning a bronze in the senior girls’ ‘C’ event even though she only was in Grade 9 at the time.
That remains the only medal ever won by a Muskie badminton player at the OFSAA level.
Then last year, Desjardins and her younger sister, Natalie, made it to the quarter-finals in the senior girls’ doubles event at the all-Ontarios in Milton while they both were still of junior age.
Younger players have the ability to play at higher levels because most of them start out with the Fort Frances Badminton Club long before they reach high school.
“Last year [Simone] and Natalie played doubles because Jason [Pattison] broke his wrist . . . so we switched it up. They did really well,” said Muskie coach John Gibson.
Fast forward to 2004. Simone Desjardins has gone undefeated so far this season in her return to the singles division while Natalie has paired up with Pattison in the senior mixed doubles event.
They also qualified for the all-Ontarios after winning NWOSSAA gold here last week—going undefeated in five matches for 10 points.
“Because of their experience and how well they’ve been playing, we expect to see some good results [in Ajax],” said Gibson, though he added the competition at OFSAA tends to be tougher than what they see here.
“The kids will really have to raise their level of play,” he stressed.
From their past experiences, the Desjardins both know things get much more competitive at OFSAA.
“There’s a huge difference,” said Simone, who has been playing badminton since she was nine years old. “I’m hoping to do better than last time.”
Natalie—who also plays Muskie soccer, volleyball, and basketball—prefers playing doubles to singles because she likes having a teammate, though she admitted she likes badminton because it’s a more individual sport.
“You are able to learn faster what to do,” noted Natalie, adding mixed doubles is different than the girls’ doubles event because “the guys are usually more intense.”
The top two finishers in each senior division at NWOSSAA advanced to the all-Ontarios, with NorWOSSA sending a total of eight competitors to Ajax (three duos and two singles players).
Also qualifying was Brent Dhym of Atikokan, who earned the NWOSSAA silver medal after finishing second with eight points in the senior boys’ singles event.
Z. Halwachs and R. Manns of Atikokan advanced to Ajax after finishing second in the senior boys’ doubles event while Takahashi and Derouard (Thomas Aquinas) teamed up to earn NWOSSAA gold in senior girls’ doubles play.
Megan Fairbairn just missed qualifying for the all-Ontarios, finishing third with six points behind Desjardins and Allison Dennis (Lake Superior) in the senior girls’ singles event.
T. Wiens and S. Bryk (Atikokan) also missed out after finishing third in the seniors boys’ doubles event.
The Atikokan duos of Gilles/Sawdo and Howson/Frechette both finished fourth in senior girls’ doubles and senior mixed doubles, respectively.
In related news, Joel Ashworth (Rainy River) won NWOSSAA silver in the junior boys’ singles event here last Wednesday while Jamie Campagnalo (Atikokan) was third.
Kwasnicia and Jensen (Atikokan) teamed up to take third in the junior boys’ doubles event while Fournel and Brewster (Atikokan) were fourth in junior girls’ doubles play.
While the junior players could not advance to OFSAA, their showings helped NorWOSSA wind up tied with NSSSAA with 70 points at NWOSSAA. SSSAA was a distant third (14 points).
Gibson also wanted to thank the sponsors who will help fund the Muskies’ trip to Ajax next week.
“Without the community support, we wouldn’t be able to run this,” he stressed.