After two years trying, the Semiahmoo Totems finally vanquished an old foe earlier this month, en route to a fourth-place finish at badminton provincials in Kamloops.
The Totems, who for the last two years had been beaten in provincial play by South Kamloops, got the better of their rivals – who were the top seed – this time around, beating them 7-4 in quarter-finals.
“It’s almost like sweet revenge, as corny as that may sound,” said Semiahmoo teacher Mike Hovan, who coached the team with Jens Berg.
Where the Totems gained an edge against South Kamloops was in the boys pairs event – which the host squad had dominated in previous matches. This time, however, Semi’s Kevin Lu and Jeffrey Liang won – a victory Hovan called “the real turning point.”
“The boys just left it all out on the court. They gave it their all – it was amazing.”
Semiahmoo – seeded 11th when the tournament began – went on to lose in semifinals to St. George’s/Crofton House, and then dropped a close series with Richmond in the bronze-medal affair; they lost 7-4 but six of the 11 games went to a third set.
The toughest game, Hovan said, was against the St. George’s/Crofton House conglomerate – combined for the purposes of mixed games, as St. George’s is an all-boys school.
“Our guys just couldn’t manage to get much on their boys, and Crofton’s girls are basically Canada’s junior national team, so that was awfully tough, too,” he said.
“The kids were a little disheartened as you might expect, but to come into it 11th and come out in fourth is pretty amazing, and I think after a few days, they’ll realize it, too.”
In earlier round-robin action, Semi defeated Vancouver’s Prince of Wales Secondary, Kelowna and J.N. Burnett of Richmond.
In addition to the pairing in Lu and Liang, Hovan was also quick to heap praise on Grade 10 Chelsea Yang, who lost only two singles matches all tournament, and senior Stephanie Chen, whom Hovan called “the heart and soul of the team.”
It was Semiahmoo’s fourth straight trip to provincials.