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HIGH ACHIEVERS WEEKEND WRAP: Gabriela Dabrowski nets 11th WTA doubles title in Madrid

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Welcome back to WEEKEND WRAP, where there was an interesting mix of joy and sadness on the tennis, badminton and basketball courts as well as the curling sheets and soccer pitches.

Let’s start at the top and see what Ottawa’s talented athletes, who were almost exclusively female this weekend, achieved and celebrated over the past few days.

Gabriela Dabrowski turned 30 years old on April 1 and got a belated gift at the Mutua Madrid Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament that has been a few years in the making.

The new partnership of Dabrowski and Austrian-born Guiliana Olmos of Mexico rose to championship level, when the second-seeded team outlasted Desirea Krawczyk of the United States and Demi Schuurs of The Netherlands 7-6 (1), 5-7, 10-7 in the women’s doubles final.

It was the fourth career WTA 1000 tournament win for Dabrowski and her 11th tour championship title in 24 finals. But it was the first tour title for Dabrowski and Olmos.

“In those pressure moments, in the tiebreak in the first set, in the super-tiebreak at the end, I felt more comfortable because we knew that we weren’t having big highs and big lows,” said Dabrowski, whose first WTA women’s doubles final was nine years ago this month.

“It felt like we were always bringing something good, and that would put a lot of pressure on our opponents to come up with something better and better. In the end, that worked in our favour.”


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What made the victory extra special for Dabrowski was she was the Madrid Open runner-up in 2019 with Xu Yifan and in 2021 with Schuurs, who was her 2022 opponent.

“I’m super happy that the third time’s a charm for me here,” added Dabrowski, who experienced her last WTA 1000 tournament triumph at the 2021 Canadian Open.

Dabrowski said the conditions were right for her and Olmos to emerge as champions, citing the altitude and clay-court conditions.

“There’s a little bit of altitude, which I think helps my serve jump up a little bit more. I do remember in previous years serving really well and that being a key to winning some of the bigger matches,” she continued.

“The clay is so nice here… probably one of the nicest facilities in terms of clay courts and the truest bounces on a clay court. So, I appreciate that.”

The altitude advantage gave some of her shots more depth, power and maybe “I just hit a better quality ball than I do elsewhere.”

Dabrowski and Olmos, who have been building confidence and court communication over the past few months, are opposites working together.

“Gugu (Giuliana) loves to have fun probably more than I do, but she brings out a good side of me. I’m trying to also look on the lighter side of things and I think that’s helped me play better in pressure moments. So, I do appreciate that from a partner perspective.”

HISTORIC OFSAA GOLD FOR ST. PETER GIRLS’ BADMINTON DUO

The return of the OFSAA provincial high school sports championships, after a 26-month absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was good news for at least five Ottawa athletes representing three different schools.

After receiving a first-round division A women’s doubles bye at the OFSAA badminton championships in Pain Court, Dani Roth and Katie Leela Fong of St. Peter Knights won five consecutive matches over two days for an historic result.

When the Knights team defeated Kate Dong and Zoe Ng of the York Region Athletic Association in the final, Roth and Fong became the first pair from the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association to win a women’s doubles title in the 42-year history of the OFSAA badminton championships.

Ashbury’s Jenny Liao emerged as the girls’ singles open bronze medallist, after winning three straight matches in the division A consolation. She won her first two matches, but lost her quarterfinal, which dropped her into the consolation draw.

Franco-Cité’s Jacob Beauchamp and Kayana Kama lost their first two mixed doubles matches, but countered with two wins to capture the B division bronze medal.

ONTARIO SILVER MEDALS FOR OTTAWA GIRLS’ BASKETBALL TEAMS

Ottawa basketball fans would have been doing a lot of fast-breaking on Sunday at the Ontario Basketball Association provincial girls’ U15 and U16 championships at the Meridian Community Centre in Fonthill.

There was an Ottawa team in each of the two youth finals and they were being played at the same mid-afternoon time. At least the games were in the same building.

One game was a heartbreaker and the other was a runaway as the Nepean Blue Devils had to settle for the silver medal in the U15 final and the Ottawa Next Level also took the runner-up medal in their U16 championship game.

The provincially top-ranked Blue Devils were edged 68-66 by the Brantford CYO No. 1 team. The Blue Devils were 2-1 in pool play and reached the final by defeating the No. 2-ranked and undefeated IEM Oak Ridges 39-33.

In the girls’ U16 final, Kitchener Waterloo Vipers continued to be the hottest shooting team in the tournament and turned back Ottawa Next Level 68-29. The Vipers averaged almost 65 points a game and only allowed an average of 29.5 against.

Next Level posted a 3-2 record during the tournament.

In the Ontario Cup girls’ U16 tournaments, the undefeated Gloucester-Cumberland Basketball Association Cote team defeated Niagara Falls Red Raiders 42-34 for the division 5 gold medal.

The GCBA Desjardins squad fell 60-53 to Timmins and earned the division 4 silver medal, while Nepean Basketball claimed the bronze, after a 55-49 win over Toronto Lords.

ROSA MAALOUF LEADS CONCACAF TOURNAMENT SCORING TO HELP CANADA QUALIFY FOR U17 WORLD CUP

Ottawa’s Rosa Maalouf won the “Golden Boot” as the tournament’s top scorer at the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship to lead Team Canada to a World Cup berth later this year.

Competing in her seventh match in 15 days, Maalouf’s 12th goal of the competition was the Canadians’ final goal of the Apr 23-May 8 continental qualifier in Dominican Republic.

Canada downed Puerto Rico 3-0 in that match on Sunday to earn the third and final ticket to the Oct. 11-30 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India. Canada has qualified for all seven editions of the U17 Women’s World Cup.

The Canadians lost just once at the competition – 3-0 in their semi-final against USA – while also recording victories over Costa Rica (3-0 quarter-final), Honduras (4-1 round of 16), Dominican Republic (10-0 group stage) and Bermuda (5-0 group stage), and a 1-1 tie with Jamaica (group stage).

On top of her goal in the third place game, Maalouf scored a pair against Costa Rica and Bermuda, a hat trick against Honduras, and four against Dominican Republic.

Maalouf joined the Ontario women’s national team’s residency centre in Toronto after previously playing with the Ottawa South United Force and Ottawa Internationals.

ELATION THEN HEARTBREAK FOR SAM CHARRON AND CANADA AT CP WORLD CUP

Ottawa’s Sam Charron scored the lone goal in Canada’s 1-0 upset victory over the Netherlands at the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football’s May 1-15 Men’s World Cup in Spain, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to get Canada into the tournament quarter-finals.

The Canadians lost their tournament-opener 8-1 to England before the win over Netherlands put them in solid position to advance, but they couldn’t close the deal on Saturday when a draw against previously-pointless Venezuela sent them down to the classification round.

Charron, Team Canada’s captain, scored two goals in the 3-3 tie. The 24-year-old former St. Francis-Xavier University X-Man and current Ottawa TFC men’s premier player will play again Tuesday against Australia as Canada’s para national team shoots for ninth place.

EMOTIONAL FAREWELL FOR CURLING LEAD JOANNE COURTNEY

Defending champion Rachel Homan suffered a double loss – one was expected and one was not – at the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup, which was the final stop on the women’s curling tour as well as the Grand Slam of Curling in Olds, AB.

After finishing in a five-way tie for first place in her rink’s pool at 3-2, Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Sarah Wilkes and lead Joanne Courtney dropped their quarterfinal match 6-3 to eventual champion Kerri Einarson of Gimli, MB.

When the match finished, there were hugs and tears all around the ice sheet as they said farewell to Courtney, who played her final match with Team Homan, after eight years as the lead.

“It has been an absolute honour to be your teammate and friend,” Homan posted on Twitter. “You will forever have a special place on our team and in our hearts.”

Miskew also gave a tip-of-the-hat tweet to Courtney: “The end of an era. Thanks for being the best teammate for the last eight years. I feel so lucky to have made such a great friend, while chasing our dreams together.”

The last word goes to Courtney, who will step back from curling for family and professional (nursing) reasons: “It has been a wonderful ride. So grateful for everything curling has taught me. I’m sad. Thanks to my teammates and family for supporting me through this crazy journey – will cherish these memories forever.”

TEAM ACRES TIED FOR 10TH AT CANADIAN U18 CURLING

Skip Emma Acres, third/sister Ava Acres, second Liana Flanagan and lead Mya Sharpe finished the 21-team Canadian girls’ U18 curling championship in Oakville, ON., tied for 10th place.

After posting a 3-3 round-robin record and missing the championship medal round by one win, Team Acres won its only consolation playoff game 6-5 over the second Ontario rink skipped by Charlotte Johnston of London.

NAMINGS, SIGNINGS, PLAYING

Rideau Canoe Club’s Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka and Natalie Davison and Cascades Club’s Sophia Jensen were selected Monday by Canoe Kayak Canada for the first 2022 sprint World Cup regatta in Racice, Czech Republic, while Brianna Hennessy of the Ottawa River Canoe Club was picked for the Para World Cup in Poznan, Poland.

Ottawa’s Abdul Mohamed, a fifth-year player at Montana State University, has signed to play with Montreal Alliance of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, while Harvard University grad Corey Johnson of Ottawa will play for the Ottawa Blackjacks this summer, after a winter season with the Newcastle Eagles in England.

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees assistant coach Nathan Taylor has been named to participate in the CFL’s Diversity in Football Program. He also will be part of the Ottawa Redblacks staff for training camp.

Madison Grant and Alex Ondo, who played for the University of Ottawa women’s rugby team, helped Canada East to a 3-1 record at a Rugby Canada Next Gen 7s tournament in Langford, B.C. Canada East lost to Maple Leaf Academy 19-14 in the final.

Gatineau’s Camille Berube has been selected to the Canadian para swim team for the Commonwealth Games July 28 to Aug. 8 in Birmingham, England.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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