End on high note
Ottawa-area athletes make the most out of their second-last day at Canada Games
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.