CANADIAN NATIONALS – 1st titles for 2 teens

Teen sensations Jason Ho-Shue and Rachel Honderich topple first seeds to win their first senior national titles. Story and photos by Yves Lacroix (live in Winnipeg) It might have been […]

Teen sensations Jason Ho-Shue and Rachel Honderich topple first seeds to win their first senior titles.

Story and photos by Yves Lacroix (live in Winnipeg)

It might have been one of those days when everything goes as planned and first seeds finish first. Why think otherwise when six of the finalists at the Canadian had qualified twice for the ultimate round and each top seed was a defending champion with a personal collection of one to six titles?

In a repeat of last year’s Pan Am Games women’s singles final, Michelle Li and team-mate Rachel Honderich went face-to-face in the first final of the day. Li once again proved too strong and prevailed 21-15, 21-9 over Honderich.

Veterans Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng (pictured) then came on court to successfully defend their men’s doubles title. They encountered strong opposition from Derrick’s brother Toby Ng and Philippe Charron – the only player from Québec still alive in the ultimate round – but the team from British Columbia won their sixth consecutive title in their event, a record in Canadian badminton.

Next, Rachel Honderich and Michelle Li (pictured top) were back on court but this time as a duo against first seeds and three-time champions Alex Bruce and Phyllis Chan (pictured below). The challengers wobbled at first but gradually improved their level of play to topple the first seeds with the deciding game going 21-10 in their favour.

Li had won the title in 2011 with partner Bruce but it was a different story for Honderich who, at age 19, claimed her first senior title in Canadian badminton.

The ever-smiling Honderich put her win in perspective after her victory: “I am really excited and relieved to get my first senior national title. I have lost in the women’s doubles finals the past 2 years to Alex and Phyllis, (2 years ago with Grace Gao, and last year with Michelle) so I was really hoping that I would win it this year.

“I also lost in the women’s singles final last year, and the women’s singles final again this year just an hour before playing the doubles … so I was hoping to break through and finally get a win.

“I was quite anxious and nervous at the beginning of the match and we got off to a slow start in the first game, as they were playing very fast and hard shots at me that I was having trouble redirecting. Even after losing the first game, and being down in the second, Michelle continued to encourage me and reassure me that we could do it.

“When we were down in the middle of the second game, we changed our strategy, which made a big difference and allowed us to come back in the second game and win the 3rd! I am really happy to have won the doubles, and want to thank of course Michelle Li for being the best partner and for leading me to my first title. I also want to thank my coach Jennifer Lee, and my mixed and training partner Kevin Li!”

Second seed and 17-year-old reigning Pan Am Junior champion Jason Ho-Shue (pictured) was obviously hungry for a first senior title against Pan Am Games silver medallist Andrew D’Souza.  Ho-Shue roared early in the match and celebrated vocally each point, much to the amusement of the watching spectators. Ho-Shue’s explosiveness and speed proved too much to handle for 2015 winner D’Souza.  Ho-Shue exploded with joy and sank to the ground after a very convincing 21-12 21-18 win. At age 17, the youngster from Ontario became one of the youngest senior champions in Canadian history.

“No matter win or lose, the most important thing to remember is perseverance. To never give up and to overcome the hardships is what you call ‘a fighter’,” said the very expressive Ho-Shue after his first senior national title.

“I expected a hard fight in the semi-finals and an even harder one in the finals. My coach’s father passed away last night and I know how it feels so I played my best for him to make him proud.”

To close the day, all four finalists in mixed doubles were back for a second shot at a 2016 Canadian championships title. In the closest match of the day, Toby Ng and Alex Bruce (pictured bottom) won a second consecutive title when they toppled Philippe Charron and Phyllis Chan. Charron and Chan were inches away from converting their third consecutive appearance in the final round of the senior badminton championships but went down 16-21, 23-21, 18-21.

Final results
WS: Michelle Li [1] beat Rachel Honderich [2]  21-15, 21-9
MD: Adrian Liu / Derrick Ng [1] beat Philippe Charron / Toby Ng [3/4]  21-19, 21-18
WD: Rachel Honderich / Michelle Li [2] beat Alex Bruce / Phyllis Chan [1]  19-21, 21-17, 21-10
MS: Jason Ho-Shue [2] beat Andrew D’Souza [1]  21-12, 21-18
XD: Toby Ng / Alex Bruce [1] beat Philippe Charron / Phyllis Chan [3/4]  21-16, 21-23, 21-18

Click here for complete results

Yves Lacroix

About Yves Lacroix

Based in Montréal, Yves has been an archivist for most of his career and started badminton photography early in the millennium. He has been part of the team since its infancy and his work both behind the camera and behind the photo website is key to the success of Badzine.