Ace of a season at Earl Haig

Three undefeated girls badminton teams help lead the OFSAA-bound squad

When it comes to the game of badminton, Haig State dominates.

Nearly all of Earl Haig Secondary’s badminton squads are at the top of their respective divisions and the team as a whole is preparing to bring back a set of championship banners from the upcoming North Region finals.

Banners from previous years hung high on the wall of Earl Haig’s gym as their teams battled against AY Jackson Secondary on April 4.
According to Haig State’s coach, Julie Zhou, the team has a good chance to add to their collection this season.

“My goals for this season are to win gold in the North Region again,” she said. “We have pretty much consistently in the past 10 years and I definitely want to keep that record.”

Haig State’s boys A doubles and boys A singles squads have lost just one game a piece en route to 5-1 records, good enough for second place in their divisions. Their girls teams have been even better. Their girls A singles, girls A doubles and girls B doubles teams are all undefeated in six games so far this season.

“This year in particular our girls are quite strong,” Zhou said. “In the past it’s been the boys but for the past, I’d say, four years we’ve had very, very strong girls.”

Last year, their girls A doubles squad brought home a silver medal from the OFSAA tournament after losing 21-19 in the third and final set. In their latest game versus AY Jackson, the tandem of Daiyan Luo and Donna Yan cruised to a 21-4, 21-3 victory over their opponent.

Although Zhou could be seen offering advice to her players in between sets, she said she lets players such as Luo, who is team captain, do much of the coaching.

“Honestly, I am far more of a staff advisor than a coach,” she said. “There are several players on my team that play far better than I ever could.”

Luo said Earl Haig has been a badminton powerhouse because of the large number of players who train with various badminton clubs across the city.

“We have high-performance players that play outside of school that are coming in,” Luo said. “They’re able to help improve the skill level of the ones that are below them.

“Because we’ve experienced coaching from professional coaches we kind of take that and convert it into our own method of coaching.”

That afternoon, Earl Haig won nine out of the 10 matches played against AY Jackson with none of the games going to three sets. The opposing coach, Andy Ruston, said intimidation is always a factor when facing Haig State.

“I think the key thing with our players is to build their confidence because you come here and they have their OFSAA players who are smashing the birdie backwards and forwards and it’s intimidating,” he said. “They now have a kind of reputation here where they’ve won a few points straight away just because people come in there intimidated.”

Zhou admitted that they are not very popular at regionals and she said she’s hoping Earl Haig’s birdie bashers can further that reputation with their performances at the regional finals and beyond.

“Past regionals, my goal is to get as many teams as possible into OFSAA, especially since I have an older team,” she said. “For many of them it’s their last year, so OFSAA is their goal.”

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Apr 12 2012 2:04 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto