The Douglas College Royals roared again at the Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association national badminton championships.
Douglas players took medals in four of the five categories, including gold in the women’s singles and men’s and mixed doubles at the national championships in Kamloops on Saturday.
Burnaby’s RuiLin Huang was again the toast of the tournament, winning a fourth consecutive singles title, while Rey Luo Wei and Simon Wu came back to win the men’s doubles title in dramatic fashion.
Charmagne Yeung and freshman Logan Campbell also won a gold medal, taking the mixed doubles title without dropping a single game.
First-year walk-on Bob Sharma of Douglas also medalled, earning a silver medal in the men’s singles.
“I’m exceedingly proud of this team. I’m very proud of Simon (Wu). He was overjoyed. He really wanted it,” said Douglas head coach Al Mawani of the fifth-year transfer student.
“Things like this just make you proud. … They just won’t quit no matter what. We didn’t really know how we’d do. But to pull all these results our way, I was extremely proud of them.”
Huang, who prior to the nationals was awarded a fourth association player of the year award, had just one misstep in her march to a fourth women’s singles title.
Huang defeated Ontario champ Tracy Wong in three games in their Round 2 matchup, dropping her first game this season 21-18 in the second set.
The Burnaby student rallied, remaining in complete control and sweeping the remaining opposition, including a 21-13, 21-10 victory over Wong in the gold-medal final.
“We never gave up. There was no give up no matter what the score was,” said Mawani.
That was certainly true about the men’s doubles team of Wei and Wu.
The men’s provincial champs dropped their opening two matches in round-robin play to the PacWest hosts and Ontario but avenged both defeats in the ensuing finals.
Wei and Wu swept the Kwantlen University team of Willis Kwee and Andy Wong 21-12, 21-15 in the semifinals.
The Douglas pair then defeated Ontario’s Dayvon Reid and Mark Wong 21-19, 21-12, 23-21 in what turned out to be the match of the tournament.
“We went in as one of the favourites with Ontario, but we started up a bit overconfident,” Mawani said.
After its second straight loss of the competition to Ontario in Round 2, the team talked over strategy, Mawani added.
“We said, ‘This is not how we play. Our tournament is going to start now. We’re going to win the title.'”
With returning national doubles titlist Rei offering vocal encouragement, the Douglas team pulled through in the final game, saving a number of match points to upset Ontario.
“It’s our fighting experience that allowed us to bring us back,” Mawani said.
That manner of gutsy performance was also evident in Sharma’s upset wins over PacWest champion Luke Couture in two separate men’s singles matches.
Sharma easily beat Couture 21-9 in a third set tiebreaker in the opening round.
The first-year Douglas student then swept Couture 23-21, 22-20 in the men’s semifinal before dropping the gold-medal final to three-time and defending men’s singles champion Dan Kai of Alberta in straight sets.
“Bob gave it everything he had. But I think he’s a year away from that level,” said Mawani.
In mixed doubles, Yeung and Campbell were first-time national champions.
The PacWest wildcard women’s doubles team of Lisa Chen and Amy Leung from Douglas placed fifth overall.
“We built a new team this year from the grassroots. I’m very proud of the group, the college and the club. It’s doing what we’re supposed to do,” Mawani said. “The support from Douglas College has been fantastic. We wanted to bring (our play) up to our standards.”
Four-time winner Ruilin Huang of Burnaby was named the Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association women’s badminton player of the year for an unprecedented fourth time.
The Douglas College student won previous player of the year awards in 2009, ’10 and ’11.
Huang is also a four-time All-Canadian in badminton.
By Tom Berridge, Burnaby NOW March 6, 2012