Youngsters lead the charge for Sudbury Jr Badminton
by Randy Pascal
The Sudbury Junior Badminton Club was well represented last month at the NOBA (Northern Ontario Badminton Association) Championships in
Timmins over the weekend, most notably with U14 double gold medal winner Gillian Obradovich.
Obradovich finished first in the women’s singles in her age class, and then teamed with Dominik Brunette-Royer to also lay claim to the mixed
doubles crown. An 11 year old grade 6 student at MacLeod Public School, Obradovich has come a long way since making the jump from casual games, for
fun, in the backyard, to joining the club scene roughly a year ago.
"At my first practice, I thought I was really bad," she recalled. "Once I started, I got better." In fact, Obradovich still remembers the very basic
skill-set that would consume most every practice in those first few months.
"Hitting the bird over the net is a good start, and clearing, high and far," she said. "Clearing is when you hit the bird to the back of the court. If
the other person is up close to the net, you want to be able to get it behind them in order to get the point."
As witnessed by the success she enjoyed in Timmins, Obradovich appears to have options to pursue, within the game of badminton, as she works her way
gradually towards her high school career.
"I usually do best in doubles, but I find singles the most fun," said the youngster, who also excels on the school cross country circuit, finishing fifth
in the L.U. Challenge last September.
"I just like being by myself and being able to take over the while court. In mixed, usually you play front and back, but for (women's) doubles, it kind
of varies. Sometimes you will play sides, and sometimes you play front and back."
Ironically, Brunette-Royer is most in his element when he shares the court with Obradovich, an excellent partner, in his mind. "She's happy, she's funny,
and she loves playing badminton," said the 13 year old grade 8 student at Ecole catholique St Pierre.
"It makes it a lot less stressful on the court. She doesn't talk a lot on the court, but she does smile a lot." Still, there are times when sharing your
thoughts are critical for any mixed team.
"You want to communicate with your partner," acknowledged Obradovich. "If the bird is going right between the two of you, you want to call it so that you
both don't go hit it and smash into each other."
In fact, having a bit of a game plan was something of a difference-maker for the local pairing at the NOBA event. "I find that we had a little bit more
strategies and we knew where to put it," said Brunette-Royer.
"Singles is harder, because you have to use different strategies and position yourself in the right spot every second of the game." Still with the
Sudbury club, local product Cameron Duff lost to Caleb Parfitt from North Bay in the men’s U19 singles event, and then teamed with Parfitt
to win the men’s doubles competition.
Duff would garner a second silver medal on the weekend, partnering with Tess Hausenblas from Elliot Lake and finishing behind only Parfitt and Ellie
Perry in mixed doubles play. Sudburian Kallie Rheault also won gold, teaming up with Jessie Zhou (North Bay) to take U19 ladies doubles