By Martin Cleary
Final exams are on the horizon for Ottawa high school students.
For Glebe Collegiate Institute’s Carter Chew, that means time to put aside his tennis racquet and the rugby ball.
He gladly has done that as his Grade 12 final exams start next week and he knows it’s time to focus on his academic studies and shift into catch-up mode.
Chew spent all last week at not one, but two OFSAA sports championships. He captured a tennis gold medal with partner Aidan Fennimore in the high school boys’ doubles division in Toronto and then travelled to Arva to join the boys’ rugby team, which won two of four games and reached the consolation final.
“It was pretty surreal,” Chew said about back-to-back provincial high school championships over a six-day period. “We set the bar high and won the gold in tennis. Rugby was a great experience. It was a great week.
“It was definitely an eventful week. I didn’t do one single piece of homework. But I don’t regret it.”
Participating in an OFSAA championship is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most student-athletes. But to qualify for two in the same week, it’s rare and you have to take full advantage of that opportunity.
Chew and Fennimore will enter their exam study periods in a good mood, after winning five consecutive OFSAA tennis championship matches. They qualified for OFSAA by winning the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association high school boys’ doubles division title last fall. The Glebe rugby team (5-0) qualified for OFSAA by defeating Sacred Heart 35-0 in the city final last month.
The Glebe doubles team resumed playing last month to prepare for the OFSAA championship. Chew and Fennimore, who played in the OFSAA high school doubles draw in 2022 with a French exchange student, weren’t aiming for the gold medal, but had an impressive start.
“For us, we wanted to do ourselves proud and do our best,” said Chew, who will study commerce at Concordia University in September. “Then, we kept winning matches. It was quite something.”
Chew and Fennimore received a first-round bye before defeating Dechlan Gunn and Gavin Marshall 8-1 in the second round. They survived a close third-round battle to turn back Benjamin and Mathias Reyes Rivadeneira 8-6 to reach the quarterfinals.
Their final three matches were equally intense as Chew and Fennimore dismissed Divyesh Bhargava and Jaxon Bore 8-6 in the quarters, Nayan Liscombe and Matthias Low 8-5 in the semifinals and Michael Mao and Charles Vilain 8-6 in the final.
Mao and Vilain surged into an early 3-0 lead in the championship match, but the Glebe team didn’t panic.
“In the first game, we were up 40-0, but lost it and that sent us into a spiral,” Fennimore, a Grade 11 student, explained. “But we brought it back to win 8-6.
“We played to our strengths and slowed down. We didn’t take risks.”
A former tournament player, Chew delivered powerful serves, while Fennimore was consistent at the net and had an all-around good game.
“We had won all of our other games from the start (without falling behind),” Chew added. “(Trailing early) was new for us, the worst thing that could happen.
“It was a new feeling, but an old feeling. I’ve been in that situation before. In those moments, you just relax, focus and stay calm.”
That strategy certainly worked and they were aided by the team’s cheering section. The seven other players and two coaches of the Glebe tennis team lined the indoor court at the L’Amoreaux Tennis Centre to provide their vocal support.
A few points into the final, the Glebe girls’ rugby team appeared after its OFSAA AAA championship in Bolton to cheer on Chew and Fennimore.
“One of the tennis directors said it was one of the biggest audiences for a final,” Chew added. “We weren’t sure if they would make it. But when I saw all 30 (rugby players) come in, I got a bit sweaty. But we quickly got our rhythm. I used it as a tool to do better.”
“It was good. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t so exhausted. But it was a great experience,” Fennimore said.
After the celebration and medal presentation, the Glebe boys’ rugby coach picked up Chew and drove him to Arva for the OFSAA boys’ AAA championship.
Chew, who played the hook position on the rugby squad, had no rest days, but he did miss the first two games because of illness – an 8-7 loss to Saltfleet and a 17-14 win over Barrie North.
He played the third game, a 20-12 decision over Thomas A. Stewart, and the tightly contest consolation final, which was a 21-15 loss to host Medway.
“I think we did well. We lost our first match and that was a bit of a punch to the gut right off,” Chew said. “But we played better and won our next two games.
“We were down at halftime (in the consolation final), but with one minute left we were up and they scored a try. We were with them.”
WOODS 2ND AT MONT VENTOUX CHALLENGE FOR SEASON’S 1ST PODIUM
Racing for the first time in 45 days, Ottawa’s Michael Woods of Israel-Premier Tech earned Tuesday the first podium finish of his 2023 European cycling season.
Woods came within one second of winning the abridged Mont Ventoux Challenge as he was out-kicked by France’s Lenny Martinez of Groupama-FDJ. Martinez’s winning time over the shortened, 98-kilometre course was two hours, 48 minutes, 41 seconds.
A weather warning forced organizers to reduce the race from its original 153 kilometres, which restricted the riders to only one ascent of Mont Ventoux rather than two and eliminated several smaller climbs.
Woods, who is in the final year of his three-year contract with Israel-Premier Tech, launched a big attack four kilometres from the finish and quickly lost the peloton in his 25th day of racing this season. Veteran Domenico Pozzovivo joined Woods with one kilometre remaining and started working for his teammate.
Woods was on his own for the last 500 metres and narrowly lost to Martinez.
“I’m pleased with my form, but I’m disappointed with the result,” Woods said in an Israel-Premier Tech press release. “I really thought I had a good shot at winning, but I just didn’t play my cards as well as I could have.
“With the shortened stage and headwind, it didn’t really suit me, but I’m pleased that my form is really good. I just need to do some final touches and I’ll be there to win.
“The teamwork was excellent today. The guys were great, so I wish I could have finished it off a bit better, but I can’t really be too disappointed with second place.”
Woods was forced to abandon his last race in the fourth stage of the Tour de Romandie on April 29. His previous best result this season was a fourth in the La Fleche Wallonne on April 19.
On Thursday, Woods returns to La Route d’Occitanie-La Depeche du Midi in France to defend his title. He won the General Classification title in 2022 as well as the third stage and also was second in both the points and mountain classifications over four stages.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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