Record-setting start carries Firehawks to championship

For the second time in three years, the Fraser Heights Firehawks are perched atop the high school badminton world following a dominating performance at the provincial championships in Richmond last weekend.

The Firehawks soared to the title in record-breaking fashion, winning 44 consecutive matches to open the tournament and tie the provincial record for wins through the quarter-final round.

The Firehawks then set a new provincial tournament record by improving their results to 52-3 by the end of the Friday’s semifinal round.

Fraser Heights’ final win-loss record of 58-8 fell one match short of the all-time provincial standard set by H.J. Cambie (59-7) in 1999.

“It means a great deal to the kids because this is their season-long goal,” said Firehawks coach David Dryden of the school’s second provincial title. “The culture within Fraser Heights is that it is a badminton school and this is the pinnacle for the high school level. They worked hard for this all year and this is a reward for all that work.”

The Firehawks were led by national players James Ho (under-19) and Jenna Wong (U-16). Ho was the only player to go undefeated during provincials.

Fraser Heights blew through the roundrobin portion of the 16-team tournament on Thursday, sweeping matches against Prince of Wales, Richmond and Sa-Hali. The Firehawks kept the momentum going Friday by beating the Semiahmoo Totems 11-0 in the quarter-final round and then outlasting Pinetree 8-3 in the semifinals to reach the championship final for the third consecutive year.

In the final against a composite team from Crofton House (girls) and St. George’s (boys), the Firehawks faced their toughest competition of the weekend. The Firehawks earned mixed results through the first five rounds of the competition, winning all five boys’ matches, but losing all five girls’ matches. The duos of Jenkin Chu/Daryl

Yang and Isaac Chang/Muen Guo each won two boys’ doubles matches while Ho powered his way through the singles event.

The tournament came down to the mixed doubles event where Ho and Wong teamed up to beat their St. Georges/Crofton House rivals in straight sets, 21-13, 21-16 to clinch the coveted blue championship banner.

“The performance of the team at this year’s championships was phenomenal,” Dryden said. “They really peaked at the right time, coming through and winning the provincial championship in a mirror-image final of last year, all while ending one match short of the all-time win-loss record.

“I am really proud of the work ethic of the team and the six rookies. Everyone pulled together when it was needed most and earned revenge for last year’s heart-breaking defeat. These are the moments that make everything worthwhile.”