Seven Muskies vying for NWOSSAA berths

Lucas Punkari

Seven senior members of the Muskie badminton team are battling for the top two spots in their respective divisions at the NorWOSSA championships today in Dryden, with berths at next Wednesday’s NWOSSAA playoffs up for grabs.
“I was pretty impressed with the overall record from the players, actually,” said senior coach Jamie Jensen, who splits the duties with Manami Alexander.
“They all played really well, they were all very coachable kids, and they also showed a lot of respect for the other schools and their opponents,” he added.
Leading the way in singles play is senior Sam Stahn, who won all three of her matches during the NorWOSSA qualifier last Wednesday in Atikokan to finish first in her division.
“She went in there feeling a little bit nervous, but she played her game and did great,” Jensen recalled.
“She made her shots really well all day long as she was hitting the corners and making a lot of nice, high, and deep serves,” he added.
In boys’ doubles play, Andre Emond and Bryson Skirten were unstoppable during last week’s qualifier. They won all four of their matches, three of them in straight sets, to finish in top spot.
“They were a little bit shaky at times but overall they played pretty well,” Jensen noted.
“There is some stuff that we will need to work with them on, for sure, if they plan on making it to OFSAA,” he conceded. “But the NorWOSSA and NWOSSAA finals should be good challenges for both of them.
“And I’m excited to see how they progress and grow as a team.”
Fort High also led the way in mixed doubles play as Micaela Jack and Lewis Linklater took first place over teammates Tori Sikora and Connor Bujold, with both duos earning three wins each.
“Lewis and Micaela have a really different style of play, but it works for them,” Jensen remarked.
“Usually in mixed doubles play, the boys tend to play at the back as they have a lot more power,” he explained.
“But Lewis likes to play in the front as he has an unbelievable reaction time to their shots and at the back Tori can smash the bird as well as anybody.
“Tori and Connor played like I thought they would in the qualifiers,” lauded Jensen.
“Being a little younger than his partner, I thought that Connor might have been a little more nervous in facing people he hadn’t seen before,” he noted. “But he was really strong out there and he worked well with his partner.
“Tori was really strong at the net and ready to smash the bird whenever the chances occurred, and she was really ready to play on that day.”
Although none of the junior Muskies advanced to today’s NorWOSSA playoffs, the standout performance was that of Nicholas Clugston, who finished second in pool play but only could manage fourth in the playoff round, just missing out on qualifying.
The top two teams from the NorWOSSA playoffs will advance to NWOSSAA next Wednesday in Thunder Bay, where the winners will move on to compete at the all-Ontarios, which will be held May 3-5 in Stratford.