When Kelowna’s Harry Guss came to Whitehorse for a work engagement, he wasn’t sure if he’d get to play some badminton.
So he certainly didn’t expect to go home with a title.
“I had no idea there was even badminton up here,” said Guss. “I’m happy there was, that’s for sure.”
The 28-year-old took the open men’s singles title at the Yukon Badminton Championships on Saturday at Porter Creek Secondary.
He clinched it with a 21-19, 21-16 win over defending champ Jon Pan of Whitehorse.
“I haven’t received a medal for badminton for maybe a decade,” said the former Kelowna junior champ. “I was up to a national player as a junior, and then provincials and lots of open tournaments.”
While Guss claimed the prestigious open singles title, a junior notched a triple-gold win over the weekend.
Ritik Sharma topped three divisions at the tournament, including the U14 boys singles title with a two-set win over runner-up Bryce Anderson in the final.
“Ritik has been part of the badminton team for a few years now and his development year after year has grown very positively,” said Peter Toth, organizer and coach for the Yukon Youth Badminton Team. “He’s definitely a candidate for somebody who is going to take the sport serious and move up, and provide a challenge, not only here in the Yukon but I think he could be a strong on the western coast.”
Sharma also took gold in the youth doubles with younger brother Rohit Sharma and gold in the U16 boys doubles with older brother Mannie Sharma, who pulled off a triple-gold win at last year’s championship.
“There’s a strong family history there and strong family support for the sport, so it’s not surprising,” said Toth.
Ritik wasn’t the only player, however, with more than one gold by the end of the championships.
Kataya Ulrich teamed up with Mia Greenough for gold in the U16 girls doubles and with Toth for gold in the open mixed doubles. Ulrich also took silver in U16 girls singles with a loss to Abigail Cuenza in the final.
Like Ulrich, Toth pocked a pair of gold, also winning in open men’s doubles with Seth Rotondi.
“This year was definitely a challenge because there was a couple other activities going on this weekend and it made it hard to get some of the young athletes out,” said Toth. “So I think we only had 40 people out … and historically we’ve had over 100 easy, no problem.”
In fact, with only one open female player registered for singles, she was slotted into the open men’s division. Badminton Yukon hopes to grow its numbers in the female and junior categories, said Toth.
“We’re looking to do a another tournament in August – not a championship, but just as an open and to get more invites out of the territory. But having females in both the adult category and junior category has always been a challenge for the past three or four years. So we’re looking for females of all levels and categories to come out and enjoy the sport.”
Badminton Yukon has set a tentative date of August 21-23 for its summer tournament.
The association is also putting together a junior team for the Western Canada Summer Games in August and the Arctic Winter Games next year in Greenland.
“We’re looking for more youth players for the next 12 to 24 months and we’re happy to develop them – we have two certified coaches. We’re looking for more kids and more players in general.”
Contact Tom Patrick at
Boys U14 singles
1st Ritik Sharma
2nd Bryce Anderson
3rd Rohit Sharma
Boys U16 singles
1st Carl Knickle
2nd Mannie Sharma
3rd Lukas Kobler
Girls U16 singles
1st Abigail Cuenza
2nd Kataya Ulrich
3rd Mia Greenough
Boys U16 doubles
1st Mannie Sharma/Ritik Sharma
2nd Carl Knickle/Kaleb Pritchett
3rd Brett Walchuk/Axel Buchanan
Girls U16 doubles
1st Mia Greenough/Kataya Ulrich
1st Ritik Sharma/Rohit Sharma
2nd Mannie Sharma/Alison Hill
3rd Carl Knickle/Abigail Cuenza
Open mixed doubles
1st Peter Toth/Kataya Ulrich
2nd Daniel Auger/Caroline Thibault
3rd Brian Bruckman/Abigal Cuenza
Open men’s doubles
1st Peter Toth/Seth Rotondi
2nd Eri Boye/Ethan Allen
3rd John Kramer/Joe Stewart
1st Harry Guss
2nd Jon Pan
3rd Brian Bruckman