That Sudbury Sports Guy: Pedalboard challenges bring out the best in SDSSAA tennis champions

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More than half of the 2022 SDSSAA tennis champions weren’t going to make it easy.

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As is the case with most, if not all double knockout events, a finalist progressing to the bottom of the table, with a loss already under their belt, must knock out their undefeated opponent in consecutive matches in order to claim gold.

That’s exactly what Olivier de la Riva and Madison Hollohan did, with Connor and Ryan Di Salle’s boy doubles team only deviating slightly as the entire quartet eventually joined Clara’s mixed duo. Dissanayake and Tyler Smith and the female tandem of Kianna. Trottier and Kianna D’Attilio in the winner’s circle.

Needless to say, the ability to adapt on the fly was essential for participants who had given up on their first encounter with worthy opponents, standing directly in their path as they attempted to climb to the top of the podium.

“My opponent (Jordan Willmott of St. Charles) played very, very well, so I adjusted my serve and played more of a defensive style,” suggested de la Riva, a 16-year-old student at Notre Dame College. and one of the few high school players who also frequent the Sudbury Indoor Tennis Center with some regularity.

“I noticed he was running very well so I had to move him around a lot to hit the winner. First you have to tire him out, go from corner to corner and hope he makes a mistake. .

De la Riva was one of the very few participants who could score a first serve with pace, although even then he took a slightly different approach after falling 6-1 in the final game. after beating Willmott 10-6 to force a third head-to-head.

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“My first serve is much stronger but my second serve has a slice,” said de la Riva, who completed the comeback with a 10-7 triumph. “I did notice though that people were making my serves harder than my serves with the slice easier – so I started serving only slices, as it worked much better.”

Madison Holohan
Madison Holohan

For women’s singles champion Madison Hollohan, tennis is played at least as much from the shoulders as it is through the ability to serve, hit and return with ease.

“The game is honestly about the mindset,” noted the St. Charles College 10th grader, who beat Lockerby’s Lauren Pineau 10-3, 10-8, avenging an earlier loss to the accomplished Nordic skiing and cross-country skiing. star.

“You have to have a good mindset. During this game, I kept telling myself that you have it, keep going. Don’t worry about the point that just happened.

A member of the Sudbury U18 AA Lady Wolves team and the SDSSAA banner-winning women’s hockey team at CSC, Hollohan owes much of her tennis development to her parents and uncles, who were regular partners on a variety of courts. outside of Sudbury. As such, his first city high school championships presented something of a journey into the unknown.

“I wasn’t really sure what my competition would look like; I’ve never played against any of these girls before,” she said. “But I know I’m a good player and I was confident that my hard work would show in the tournament.”

Given her proclivity for the athletic approach of a thoughtful athlete, it’s no surprise that Hollohan entered the game Wednesday with a game plan in place.

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“I think she knew my forehand isn’t the strongest, so she usually said that,” she said. “I tried to position myself on that side, play further back and let her make mistakes.”

The Di Salle siblings, for their part, needed a tiebreaker to topple the Notre-Dame duo of Ryan Lacasse and Mathieu Boucher early in the morning, but then lost to the Alouettes 10-8 in that which was effectively the first game of the final, taking the last meeting 10-5. As we have seen in the past, the game of doubles can be all the more interesting when a family relationship comes into play.

“We were pretty excited to finally get the chance to play a tournament together,” suggested Connor, the eldest of the two, currently in 12th grade at Lo-Ellen with Ryan still in his first year as a Knight. “For this particular tournament, I think it was an advantage to be brothers.

“We can say things to each other outright and not take it personally, just because we have a good relationship. As brothers, it’s easy to be honest and straightforward with each other at the same time.

Trailing 8-2 in the opener of the final, the Di Salles rallied to tie the match at eight, providing multi-sport talents (Connor and Ryan are also gifted golfers) a path to success in the rematch.

“We kind of felt like we had the advantage on the ground shots, while they were a bit stronger on the serve,” Connor said.

“I was receiving my serve, which gave them free points. In the second final, we thought it would be enough to make serves, even if they are not hard, and throw a rally, then the advantage would be more for us.

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Tyler Smith and Clara Dissanayake may not be siblings – but considering the Lo-Ellen seniors who teamed up to win the mixed doubles title have been dating for over three years, the dynamic on the court could be equally intriguing.

“We’ve both played a lot of sports in our time and both faced a lot of competitive situations, but we really try to have fun,” Smith suggested after teaming up with his girlfriend to beat fellow Knights Madison. Huntington and Shea Mihell in the final.

“We know each other so well that we can calm down if we need to, but we try not to stress too much about it.”

While Smith and Dissanayake are no strangers to a variety of different sports, there’s something to be said for appreciating those who aren’t at the top of the pecking order.

“Tennis is not our primary sport,” Smith explained. “The last two times we played before the City Championships, we trained a few times, but we didn’t think about it too much.”

It’s been quite a month for Smith, who recently won the prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship to study engineering at McMaster University.

“Taking the time to compete in athletics has always been helpful to me,” he said.

“It definitely helps me to take my mind off my academic pursuits, to take that break that allows me to be at my best when I commit to studying.”

Yet another school singles final as the Horizon Aigles team of Kianna Trottier and Kianna D’Attilio edge out teammates Danika Lalonde and Alexie Olivier in the girls doubles final. The gold medalists actually won silver as a Grade 9 couple in 2019 and, by all accounts, are committed to giving themselves the best possible chance of winning this second time around.

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“We usually practice at the pitches at Elmview (in Hanmer) but they hadn’t put up the nets for a while so Kianna used to bring her badminton net and we would put it up on the poles so we actually have a net for practice,” Trottier said.

And their previous experience served them well, if only by having a solid understanding of how they wanted to approach positioning in the doubles game. “Kianna plays fullback and I’m up front,” Trottier noted. “Because I’m a (hockey) goalie, we found my reflexes were quicker than her — and I wasn’t afraid of being hit by the ball.

“She was naturally better at hitting long range and I was better at smashes.”

It’s going to be another very busy week of SDSSAA athletics this week with the City Athletics Championships scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, the Football Finals on Friday and the breakthrough spectacle which will be a Women’s Football game Wednesday at 5pm at the James Complex. sporty jerome

Randy Pascal is That Sudbury Sports Guy. Read his columns regularly in the Sudbury Star.

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