Badminton regional tourney dominated by Hawks players

Tracy Wong, of the mixed doubles team, prepares to serve against St. Clair’s mixed doubles team in round robin competition. (Alexandra Martino) Tracy Wong, of the mixed doubles team, prepares to serve against St. Clair’s mixed doubles team in round robin competition. (Alexandra Martino)
By Alexandra Martino

Humber’s badminton teams used their home court advantage to pull off a stellar performance in the OCAA western division, regional championship tournament Friday and Saturday at Humber North campus.

Humber’s three doubles teams all won first place. In the finals, the women’s singles came first and second and the men’s singles placed second and third.

Friday was a perfect day for the Hawks’ players, who won every round robin game they played.

Those excellent results were a helpful foundation going into the key matchups on Saturday.

“It’s definitely a confidence boost,” said men’s singles player Jesse Assing, a third-year global business management student.

Assing would need all the confidence he could hold on to as he met Redeemer’s star player, Owen Kurvits, in the final.

According to Assing, Redeemer’s men’s team is among the toughest competitors for Humber, and Kurvits was last year’s OCAA gold medalist in men’s singles badminton.

The final game was a suspenseful matchup, with lengthy rallies between Assing and Kurvits. “This is exhausting. People have no idea,” said Michael Kopinak, Humber’s associate director of athletics and recreation.

“When competing against Humber you have to be a good quality player because they’re deep,” said Benno Kurvits, head coach of Redeemer’s badminton team and father of Owen. “We have a few players that can challenge them and we’re giving it our best shot.”

The men’s medal games were dominated by Humber and Redeemer players.

Assing played hard in the final and kept up with the Redeemer star, but Kurvits was able to land his offense more successfully to take the gold.

Humber’s Cameron Lai fought Redeemer’s Shawn Brus for bronze.

Lai struggled with a right shoulder injury throughout play on Saturday, but managed to sweep Brus in the bronze medal game with the rest of Humber’s badminton team intensely cheering him on.

Perhaps one of the most gripping games of the tournament was during the women’s semifinal between Humber’s Cindy Fu and Jessica Murray of Conestoga College.

The women appeared equally matched, with Murray edging out Fu in the first game 22-20.

Fu quickly regrouped and took the next two games that captivated the gymnasium with the fierce rallies of two petite powerhouses.

Fu would go on to face Olivia Lei in an all-Humber women’s gold medal game, which Lei won with ease.

Overall, Humber’s team scores were unparalleled, ranking first overall in both men’s and women’s team scoring.

The women’s team achieved the remarkable feat of getting a perfect 37 points in overall scoring.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” said Kopinak.

Humber badminton coach Ray Wong was elated as the results were announced. The exceptional conclusion means Humber’s entire team will be on their way to the provincial championships in London, Ont., later this month.