End on high note

Ot­tawa-area ath­letes make the most out of their sec­ond-last day at Canada Games

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - MAR­TIN CLEARY

Ma­lik Bhat­na­gar ended his ju­nior ten­nis ca­reer in glo­ri­ous fash­ion Sat­ur­day, af­ter a week of un­touch­able play high­lighted by a bold and fi­nal ex­cla­ma­tion point to seize his sec­ond gold medal at the Canada Sum­mer Games in Win­nipeg.

A day af­ter help­ing On­tario se­cure gold in the mixed team com­pe­ti­tion over Bri­tish Columbia, Bhat­na­gar staged a re­lent­less dis­play of suc­cess­ful first serves and a steady ground-stroke at­tack to turn back Que­bec’s Ni­caise Muamba of Gatineau 6-1, 6-0 in the in­di­vid­ual men’s sin­gles fi­nal.

In cy­cling’s women’s cri­terium, Games’ road-race sil­ver­medal­list Kather­ine Maine of Ot­tawa took the bronze with 13 points, which she earned from one sec­ond­place re­sult, three thirds and one fourth from the five sprints over 40 kilo­me­tres. Ari­ane Bon­homme of Gatineau was fifth with one point from a fourth in the open­ing sprint.

It was the first time Bhat­na­gar, 18, had de­feated Muamba, 16, in their three ca­reer meet­ings.

“This was prob­a­bly one of my bet­ter per­for­mances in my tour­na­ment ca­reer,” Bhat­na­gar said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

“I played big, ag­gres­sive and I dic­tated the play. I was ex­tremely fo­cused on ev­ery point.”

“I’m ex­tremely sat­is­fied. It was an un­be­liev­ably great ex­pe­ri­ence. This is some­thing I’ll re­mem­ber for the rest of my life. The at­mos­phere was amaz­ing.”

The statis­tics showed how dom­i­nant Bhat­na­gar was in his fi­nal ju­nior tour­na­ment be­fore head­ing to Stet­son Uni­ver­sity in DeLand, Fla., where the ath­letic schol­ar­ship stu­dent will be­gin his post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion study­ing busi­ness man­age­ment and play­ing for the Hat­ters.

In his three mixed team and three in­di­vid­ual men’s sin­gles matches, he was un­de­feated against pro­vin­cial play­ers, lost only 15 games, notched five set wins by scores of 6-0, and spent an av­er­age of 58.5 min­utes on each match with only his Fri­day semi­fi­nal ex­ceed­ing an hour.

“This is my last ju­nior event be­fore go­ing to uni­ver­sity and a good way to end my ca­reer,” said Bhat­na­gar, who trains at the ACE Ten­nis Academy in Burling­ton, Ont., and is the sev­en­thranked ju­nior in Canada. En­ter­ing his first Canada Sum­mer Games, Bhat­na­gar put an em­pha­sis on strength­en­ing his first serve and fore­hand.

A highly re­cruited ten­nis player, Bhat­na­gar se­lected Stet­son, a pri­vate, non-profit uni­ver­sity which has an en­rol­ment of more than 4,300 stu­dents and is the fifth-best re­gional uni­ver­sity in the South.

He also con­sid­ered of­fers from larger uni­ver­si­ties like Penn State, In­di­ana, Michi­gan, North­west­ern, Ok­la­homa and Iowa.

Na­tional Cap­i­tal swim­mers took three of the top five plac­ings in the men’s 5,000me­tre open-wa­ter swim, in­clud­ing the sil­ver medal by Louis Ber­trand of Nata­tion Gatineau in 57 min­utes, 11.35 sec­onds, and the bronze by club­mate Xavier Pi­mentel in 57:55.34. Ne­pean-Kanata Bar­racu­das Swim Club’s David Quirie was fifth in 58:15.52.

Nata­tion Gatineau’s Bran­don Lacroix won bronze in the men’s 50-me­tre Ot­tawa cy­clist Kather­ine Maine (seen at left in this file photo) took bronze in the cy­cling women’s cri­terium. freestyle in 24.29 sec­onds late Fri­day night.

On­tario fought hard and ral­lied twice, but fell short in the women’s in­door vol­ley­ball bronze-medal game, los­ing to New Brunswick 26-24, 22-25, 25-15, 19-25, 15-13. The On­tario ros­ter in­cluded Ella Stew­art of the Ot­tawa Mav­er­icks Vol­ley­ball Club.

In the men’s vol­ley­ball bronze-medal game, Bri­tish Columbia out­lasted Que­bec 25-17, 25-23, 21-25, 24-26, 17-15, deny­ing Yoan David and Alexis Tournier, both of Gatineau, and Isaac Nes­bitt of Wake­field a trip to the podium.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CY­CLING CANADA

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