A total of 10 young athletes survived the rigours of the OCAA East Regionals that were hosted at Cambrian over the weekend.
That grouping includes Valérie Breen (women's singles) and teammates Patrick Michel/Jenna Dupuis (mixed doubles) from Boréal, with each securing the top seed in the East thanks to an unbeaten weekend of badminton.
Breen is no stranger to success on this front, having qualified twice for nationals previously before stepping away from the game last year when she attended Laurentian University in Sudbury.
Involved solely as an assitant coach with the Vipères in 2011-2012, Breen showed few signs of rust in disposing of Heather Breadner of Georgian (21-3, 21-2), Kaitlyn Webber of Cambrian (21-8, 21-5), Beelkie John of Centennial (21-7, 21-7), Mary Fabris of Georgian (21-2, 21-7), as well as Kaitlyn Beech of Georgian in the semifinals (21-1, 21-7) and Webber, for a second time, in the championship affair (21-8, 21-10).
Finishing second overall, Webber will join Breen in women's singles play at the OCAA tournament. For their part, Michel and Dupuis also cruised through round-robin play undefeated, posting five straight victories and finishing first overall.
Hans Agnihotri and Lindsey Champaigne of Cambrian placed third at 3-2, garnering the final of three spots that were up for grabs in mixed doubles competition.
“Playing mixed is one of my favourites,” said Agnihotri, making the jump to the collegiate ranks after enjoying a highly successful high school career during his time at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School.
“The competition here is bigger and better, so we practise a lot more often. On a skill level, everyone else is equal or better, so I have to work a lot harder.”
Playing alongside various partners during his first few months at Cambrian, Agnihotri has settled in nicely in tandem with Champaigne, with a thorough understanding of the “rotation” being the key for this relatively newly formed duet.
“Because we have pretty much only just started playing together, we had to make sure we were in the right spot on the court at the right time,” Agnihotri said.
Other Cambrian athletes making the trip to provincials include men's singles competitors Adam D'Agostino (2nd) and Tyler Cameron (3rd), as well as the men's doubles pairing of Bud Tinney and Stephen Lajambe.
The best of the OCAA will enjoy a two-week break before gathering, yet again, in southern Ontario as Georgian College in Barrie plays host to the national CCAA championships from Feb. 28 through to March 2.