By Martin Cleary
Stand up Ottawa. It’s time to give your athletes a rousing round of applause for what they’ve achieved in the past few days in tennis, swimming, paddling and basketball.
Whether they were in New York City, USA; Poznan, Poland; Netanya, Israel or Manila, Philippines, high-performance athletes connected to our city performed to their best internationally and accomplished greatness either as part of a team or as an individual.
Gabriela Dabrowski now has three career Grand Slam tennis championships to her credit, but on Sunday she won her first in women’s doubles at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York City. Her first two Grand Slams were in mixed doubles.
Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club’s Julie Brousseau must have thought last week she was reliving her 2022 Canada Summer Games performance, where she won six gold medals and a total of 11 medals overall. At the World Aquatics junior swimming championships in Netanya, she earned a total of seven medals – two silver and five bronze – and played a major role in helping Canada to a third-place finish on the nation’s standings with two gold, three silver and eight bronze.
Canoe specialist Ruby Muhl of the Rideau Canoe Club made her third trip to the International Canoe Federation’s Olympic Hopes Regatta in Poznan and was untouchable, capturing five gold medals, including three in a C1 boat.
Phil Scrubb had two reasons to celebrate at the FIBA World Cup men’s basketball championship in Manila as he came off the bench when required and did his part in helping Canada qualify for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games as well as win a bronze medal with an overtime victory against the United States.
Here’s a more in-depth look at Ottawa’s most recent athletic standouts.
FIRST GRAND SLAM WOMEN’S DOUBLES TITLES FOR GABRIELA DABROWSKI
The retired Daniel Nestor is Canada’s greatest men’s doubles tennis player and Gabriela Dabrowski continues to travel a similar path on the women’s side.
A two-time, mixed doubles Grand Slam champion, Dabrowski, 31, captured her first women’s doubles Grand Slam trophy, and the first for Canada, in a straight-set triumph at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York City.
Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe, who was born in and represents New Zealand but grew up in Caledon, ON., and formerly played for Canada, needed only two hours and 15 minutes to defeat 2020 U.S. Open champions Laura Siegemund of Germany and Vera Zvonareva of Russia 7-6 (11-9), 6-3.
Dabrowksi and Routliffe earned $700,000 (U.S) for the win, which brought Dabrowski’s 13-year career earnings to just under $5 million.
Each team held service in the first set until the tiebreaker, when Dabrowski and Routliffe raced to a 4-0 lead and battled for an 11-9 decision on their fourth set point. The Canadians took charge early in the second set, earning a double-service break to win the first three games and then closed out the match on their third championship point.
During their post-win, on-court interview, Dabrowski and Routliffe thanked each other for forming their tennis partnership only five weeks ago. They reached the second round of women’s doubles at tournaments in Montreal (Canadian Open) and Cincinnati and the semifinals in Cleveland, which was one week before the U.S. Open.
“I’m really, really proud of the way that we’ve stood by each other through thick and thin the last two weeks,” Dabrowski said. “I think we improved a lot even from the first tournament we played back in Montreal.”
Dabrowski also thanked her family and friends who came to watch her live and on TV, as well her father, who served as her coach growing up.
“You guys are the best supporters I could ever ask for. I love you so much,” she added.
Dabrowski and Routliffe, the 16th seeds at the U.S. Open, defeated eighth-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan and Wang Xinyu of China 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinals, and sixth-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Montreal and Taylor Townsend of the United States 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-8) in the quarterfinals.
Winning a Grand Slam women’s doubles title represented a major career goal fulfilled for the veteran.
“I can retire happy,” Dabrowski said via the Women’s Tennis Association. “That’s what it means to me. Not now, but at some point, I can retire relieved.”
JULIE BROUSSEAU SWIMS TO 7 MEDALS AT WORLD JUNIORS
Julie Brousseau of the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas played a major role in helping Canada finish in third place behind the United States and Australia respectively at the ninth World Aquatics junior swimming championships in Netanya, Israel.
Canada finished with 13 medals (two gold, three silver and eight bronze) and Brousseau had a hand in seven of them (three from individual races and four from relays). The U.S. had 33 medals (15-11-7) and Australia had 24 (9-7-8).
Brousseau, who has verbally committed to the University of Florida, found her way to the medal podium seven times because she has never travelled so fast through the water in her life.
The 17-year-old Brousseau set 10 personal-best records and six of them came in her medal races.
During the six-day world championships, Brousseau set best-ever race times in the freestyle (50 metres in 26.61 seconds, 100 metres in 55.51 seconds, 200 metres in 1:58.10 and 400 metres in 4:11.38), butterfly (100 metres in 1:03.30), the individual medley (400 metres in 4:38.45) and relays (4×100-metre freestyle in 3:40.40, 4×200-metre freestyle in 7:53.09, 4×100 medley in 4:07.85, and 4×100-metre mixed in 3:29.14).
“It’s been really cool to face this international field and see our team compete so well,” Brousseau said via Swimming Canada after collecting her fourth medal.
Brousseau captured silver medals in one individual race, where she missed the gold by one one-hundredth of a second, and one relay.
She completed the 200-metre freestyle in 1:58.10 and was barely out-touched at the finishing pad by American Addison Sauickie, who finished in 1:58.09. Her other silver medal came in the 4×100-metre medley relay.
Brousseau’s bronze collection came from the 200- and 400-metre individual medleys in respective times of 2:13.74, which was only 0.56 seconds behind silver medallist Haley McDonald of the United States, and 4:38.45, and the following relays – 4×200-metre freestyle in 7:53.09 (opening leg), 4×100 mixed in 3:29.14 (third leg) and 4×100-metre freestyle in 3:40.40 (opening leg).
RIDEAU CANOE CLUB’S RUBY MUHL STRIKES GOLD FIVE TIMES
If the International Canoe Federation decides some day to have its own Hall of Fame, it should have a wing for the best young padders from the Olympic Hopes Regatta.
Canoeist Ruby Muhl of the Rideau Canoe Club would be given serious consideration for induction.
Competing in her third consecutive Olympic Hopes Regatta, Muhl won five gold medals in the women’s U17 class to give her a career total of eight gold. She won two U15 gold in 2021 and one U16 gold in 2022.
Muhl posted three commanding wins in her solo races, winning the women’s U17 200 metres by 2.40 seconds, the 500 metres by 1.27 seconds and the 1,000 metres by 4.49 seconds.
When she teamed with Abbie Haines of the Carleton Place Canoe Club, Julia Price of Rideau and Isabel Lowry of Carleton Place, they produced gold-medal efforts in their C4 boat over 200 and 500 metres.
Price also found individual success, winning the women’s U16 C1 200 metres and placing third over 500 metres. In the 1,000-metre race, she was eighth.
Haines and Victoria Tran of Maskwa Aquatic Club placed first in the women’s C2 U16 500 metres, while Lowry and Emma Marshall of Balmy Beach Canoe club were fourth in the women’s C2 U17 500 metres.
Callie Loch was a triple medallist, earning silver in the women’s U17 K1 500 metres behind Canadian Chloe Bryer of the Burloak Canoe Club and they joined forces for a silver in the K2 200 metres. Loch also was third in the K2 500 metres with Bryer and part of the seventh-place K4 boat in the 500-metre final.
Henrik Neuspiel of Rideau and Dyllan Redwood-Wheeler of Carleton Place were second in the men’s U16 K2 500 metres. They also formed half of the sixth-place boat in the men’s U17 K4 200 metres.
Rideau’s Cole Norman was eighth in both the men’s C1 U17 1,000 metres and C4 500 metres.
PHIL SCRUBB HELPS CANADA TO OLYMPIC BERTH, WORLD CUP BRONZE
Phil Scrubb, who had a well-decorated university career with the Carleton Ravens, watched almost all the FIBA World Cup men’s basketball bronze-medal game from the sidelines as Canada needed overtime to turn back the United States 127-118.
The win allowed Canada to capture its first-ever medal at the World Cup (formerly world championship) and secure a berth in the Paris 2024 Summer Games, its first berth in the Olympics since 2000.
Scrubb played the final two minutes and 33 seconds of the first quarter and picked up one foul in the bronze-medal game.
In Canada’s 95-86 semi-final loss to Serbia, Scrubb made two appearances totalling 90 seconds, including the final 88 seconds of the fourth quarter. He didn’t play against Slovenia in the quarterfinals, which Canada won 100-89.
Overall, Scrubb played in six of the eight World Cup preliminary and playoff games and averaged 2.3 points, 0.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists a game.
CARLETON DROPS CLOSE FOOTBALL GAME TO WESTERN
The Carleton University Ravens suffered their second straight OUA football loss, but they weren’t overwhelmed by the powerful and undefeated University of Western Mustangs.
Western produced a balanced attack of 307 yards rushing and 254 yards passing, but only won the game by 10 points, 31-21. Carleton had 287 yards of total offence.
Ravens quarterback Tristan Lefebvre connected with Jaden Smith (three yards) and Kaseem Ferdinand (two yards) for touchdowns. Ferdinand threw for the other touchdown to Ben Huckabone, which covered 40 yards.
Brandon Forcier kicked three converts. Elijames Aiguomudu was Carleton’s best player on defence with five solo tackles and six assisted tackles.
On Saturday, Carleton travels to Toronto to meet winless York University Lions (0-3), while the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees (2-0) play host to the Windsor University Lancers (3-0).
TEAM HOMAN WINS FIRST SAVILLE SHOOTOUT WITH UNDEFEATED RECORD
Team Homan of the Ottawa Curling Club rallied to win its first-ever Saville Shootout Monday night in Edmonton, defeating Team Jones of Winnipeg 7-6 in an extra end.
Neither of the two finalists had their regular skips calling the shots. Heather Nedohin replaced Rachel Homan, who had her third child late last month, and Chelsea Carey was the super sub for Jennifer Jones.
Team Jones led 5-2 after five ends, but Team Homan rebounded with two in the sixth end, stole two in the seventh and used the hammer to count one in the extra end for the victory.
Earlier Monday, Team Homan defeated Kate Cameron of Winnipeg 8-3 (seven ends) in the semifinals and Jessie Hunkin of Spruce Grove, AB., 5-2 (seven ends) in the quarterfinals.
Team Jones defeated Team Homan in the 2022 Saville Shootout final.
The Team Homan rink, which went 7-0 and is completed by third Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew and lead Sarah Wilkes, earned $6,000, while Team Jones picked up $4,000.
Meanwhile, RCMP skip Ava Acres, third Aila Thompson, second Isabella McLean and lead Mya Sharpe won the women’s U18 Phoenix Slam curling competition in Kitchener, defeating Ottawa Hunt’s Dominique Vivier 5-4 in the final.
The Acres rink was undefeated in the competition at 5-0.
PENALTY KICKS GIVE WEST OTTAWA ONTARIO CUP MEN’S SOCCER TITLE
The West Ottawa Warriors defeated Scarborough G.S. United 6-5 in a penalty-kick shootout to win the Ontario Cup men’s division championship in Vaughan.
The final game of the summer-long tournament ended deadlocked at 2-2, following regulation time and overtime.
The Warriors reached the final defeating five-time and defending champion Gloucester Celtic 3-0 in the semifinals, Panathinkakos Toronto FC 7-5 in the quarterfinals, Windsor Croatia by forfeiture in the round of 16 and Cavan FC 5-0 in the round of 32.
Gloucester Celtic qualified for the semifinals by defeating Ottawa Impact 4-0 in the quarterfinals.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
· Ottawa’s Alexandra Schella won her age and 63-kilogram sub-junior division in the classic three-lift women’s category at the Eastern Canadian powerlifting and bench press championships in Summerside, P.E.I.
· Canada emerged as silver medallists at the NORCECA Continental Cup men’s volleyball championship in Charleston, West Virginia, after losing the final 25-20, 25-14, 25-22 to the United States. Both teams were undefeated entering the final. Canada, which had Gatineau’s Nicholas Hoag in its lineup, defeated Dominican Republic and Mexico in the preliminary round and Cuba in the semifinals 18-25, 25-21, 25-17, 24-26, 15-13;
· Ottawa Rowing Club’s Josh King and Luke Gadsdon of the Leander Boat Club placed third in the men’s coxless pair D final at the world rowing championships in Belgrade, Serbia, and finished 21st overall.
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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