Rachel Honderich was in her early teens when she first started training with Canadian badminton star Michelle Li a decade ago.
Since then, Li has been a friend, mentor, teammate and training partner. Every so often she’s an opponent too.
That’s when Honderich sees the side of Li that propelled her to a third straight Pan Am Games women’s singles title.
“On court there’s no friends,” Li said. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to focus and not be too relentless, but at the same time you’ve got to do it.”
Li showed no mercy Friday with a 21-11, 21-19 victory over Honderich in a tidy 34 minutes. She won her first Pan Am title eight years ago in Guadalajara and beat Honderich four years ago in Toronto.
“I think it’s always going to be up there as one of the bigger tournaments and bigger moments,” Li said. “Even though this is my third one, I try to treat it as my first and just do my best.”
More focused on doubles
Honderich has focused more on women’s doubles over the last year in her pursuit of Olympic qualification. She won doubles gold with Kristen Tsai of Surrey, B.C., earlier in the day with a 21-10, 21-9 win over American duo Jamie Hsu and Kuei-Ya Chen.
Even though it’s not her main discipline, the Toronto player is still ranked 75th in the world in singles. She knew it would be a tall order to knock off the 12th-ranked Li.
“I’ve played her [several] times and I know she can turn it on when it matters near the end,” Honderich said. “It’s hard when you can feel it starting to happen and you’re doing everything you can to stop it. But she played well on the important crucial points.
“So I’m a little bit disappointed but credit to her.”
They joined a parade of Canadian athletes to the badminton podium Friday at the Videna Sports Complex. Canada won four gold and three silver medals on the day, picking up some valuable Olympic qualification points along the way.
“A dominant performance by Canada,” Honderich said.
Jason Ho-Shue of Markham, Ont., and Nyl Yakura of Pickering, Ont., got things started in men’s doubles with a 21-11, 19-21, 21-18 victory over Phillip and Ryan Chew of the United States.
Toronto’s Brian Yang dropped a 21-19, 21-10 decision to Brazil’s Ygor Coelho in men’s singles and Joshua Hurlburt-Yu of Toronto and Edmonton’s Josephine Wu closed the day with an 18-21, 21-12, 21-15 mixed doubles victory over Yakura and Tsai.
Li, from Markham, Ont., is 27 and in her prime. She entered the competition on a high after upsetting top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan last week in Tokyo.
After a 17th-place finish at the Rio Olympics in 2016, she took over a year off to recover from a variety of injuries. Li returned last year and quickly regained her form.
She has included more breaks in her schedule and it has paid off with strong results.
“Recently I’m on a good path and it’s going up,” Li said.
She shared a laugh with Honderich, 23, during the pre-game introductions before getting down to business. Li jumped out to a 6-2 lead by using consistent pressure and working Honderich around all four corners of the court.
Li was able to wrong-foot Honderich on a few occasions and sealed the game with a winner down the line.
Honderich benefited from a more offensive style in the second game, leading 17-10 at one point. Li refused to buckle, taking six straight points and eventually pulling even at 19-19 before converting her first match point.
“You look at her smash and her net [play], she’s very, very good,” said Canadian coach Mike Butler. “The consistency when she’s focused is second to almost none in the world.”
Specialness of Raptors veterans will help replace Kawhi, Green
The Toronto Raptors didn’t just lose the NBA’s best two-way player, Kawhi Leonard, in the off-season, though that’s all everyone seems to talk about. The defending champions also saw one of the premier two-way role players, Danny Green, head to Los Angeles
Green had a tremendous season for Toronto, shooting a scorching 45.5% on three-pointers (third in the NBA) while also garnering plenty of All-Defensive team votes.
Though he struggled in the playoffs, Green was still a huge contributor toward the success of the team, both on and off of the court.
“He’s very consistent with the things that he’s going to do on the floor,” Marc Gasol told the Toronto Sun.
“He’s very vocal. Very positive. He doesn’t take things personal. He’s a veteran guy who has been around but has come up also through hard times and has been coached hard in his previous years (by Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) and knows what it takes to play at the highest level. And he was very good for us,” Gasol said.
“The general public doesn’t really notice what the other guys (besides Leonard) do (and) Danny’s one of those guys,” said Fred VanVleet.
He’s not flashy, his game isn’t very sexy, but I don’t know what he shot, 45% from three? Something crazy like that, at a high clip, played 80 games, played every night, guarded the best players on the other teams and he’s just solid every night,” VanVleet said. “You know what you’re going to get … (and) just having that experience here – He didn’t do a lot of preaching and teaching, he just was here and (led) by example and we’ll miss that.”
But life must go on. Nobody is singing a woe is me tune in Toronto.
“We don’t have that luxury (to bring back the full championship roster) so we have to find a new approach and a new path to get back there,” VanVleet told a few reporters in the lead-up to opening night.
“Just from a mental approach, there’s no chance for a championship hangover. If we don’t get it done it won’t be because we relaxed … We still have a lot to prove and we want to do it again,” he said.
With Leonard and Green gone there will be opportunities for everyone else to expand their games and their roles. From Pascal Siakam, to Gasol, VanVleet, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby, to Kyle Lowry likely looking more like the guy who averaged over 21 points a game from 2015-17 than the one who dropped to 14.2 a year ago, things are going to change.
“I always say it’s addition by subtraction and it’s great because those guys are going to bring something different than what (was lost),” Gasol said, not meaning it to be insulting in any way to Leonard or Green.
“I think the biggest thing is seeing how we key in offensively without those two guys,” VanVleet said. “Defensively I feel very comfortable … but offensively it can be a little tricky,” he said.
“It’ll take some time to figure it out, but I think having those two guys out is going to be a little bit more opportunity and also a chance to spread it around a little bit.”
Head coach Nick Nurse seems extremely confident with the group that he’s got for a number of reasons.
“I think there’s a specialness to some of these guys. And maybe it’s because they won or whatever, or maybe it’s just who they are,” Nurse said.
“To me, Marc Gasol is a really special player. Like, really special. Kyle Lowry, really special. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam. I mean, there’s a lot of guys. There’s IQ, toughness, competitiveness, skill, fight, that are at levels that, well as a coach you kind of dream about having guys like that,” he said.
“And it shows when the group of them goes out together you see a level of smart basketball. A level of competitiveness and a toughness and those are important things.”
Bianca Andreescu makes Canadian history by reaching No. 4 in rankings
Bianca Andreescu has become the highest-ranked Canadian tennis player in WTA Tour history.
The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., jumped one spot to No. 4 in the rankings on Monday following a week off.
That pushes her one spot ahead of her career-best No. 5 ranking, which tied a Canadian record set by Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.
Ranked outside the top 150 entering the season, Andreescu rocketed up the rankings with tournament wins at Indian Wells, Calif., and Toronto followed by her first Grand Slam win at the U.S. Open in New York last month.
Andreescu had a 17-match win streak snapped when she lost a quarterfinal match to Naomi Osaka at the China Open earlier this month.
The Canadian is scheduled to return to action at the WTA Finals, which begin on Sunday in Shenzhen, China.
Milos Raonic reached No. 3 in the men’s rankings in 2016, the best ranking achieved by a Canadian man.
On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., jumped seven spots to No. 27 after capturing the Stockholm Open on Sunday for his first career ATP Tour title.
Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top Canadian at No. 18.
Raonic has dropped to No. 32.
Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Raonic all are entered in the Erste Bank Open this week in Vienna, Austria.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.
Mike Babcock out coached the Bruins
At the beginning of the Maple Leafs 4-3 OT win over the Boston Bruins, I thought it was odd that Mike Babcock had switched Mitch Marner and William Nylander. I worried about how the Leafs were going to keep up with Boston’s depth and not lose out because of it. If only one line was able to produce, and it went up against the Bergeron line, the team wasn’t going to succeed.
Babcock’s solution was much more complicated than rolling four lines and it was brilliant.
Babcock said Leafs settled on lines strategy v Bruins two days ago
Matthews-Nylander – Offensive zone
Matthews-Marner – Match-up situation v Bergeron
4th line – Match-up v Bergeron in D-zone
“I wasn’t going to explain all that to ya (smiles) would’ve been a waste of time”
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 20, 2019
Babcock and his coaching staff get an A+ for their effort and creativity last night because they were able to have their best matchup line (Matthews and Marner), while also maximizing Nylander’s time with the top line. Alex Kerfoot was a man on a mission and showed us that he’s much better at driving play than we thought he was. That goal he scored was fully deserved.
Jason Spezza wasn’t used much, but Frederik Gauthier and his mates killed it last night, they were super impressive. They beat the Bergeron line when they needed to, gave the Leafs positive and energetic minutes against the depth, and allowed Babcock to be super creative with his top-eight forwards.
I’m less worried about the playoffs on Sunday than I was on Saturday.
Oh, and Mike Babcock (and all of you yelling at me) were right about Dmytro Timashov. I was wrong. He’s a fun little bugger.
Auston Matthews played 23 minutes and 12 seconds tonight in the Leafs first game without John Tavares. He’s only played more once in his NHL career.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) October 20, 2019
Here is the recap from the game I just talked about. It’s from Seldo so proceed with caution.
During the intermission, Nic Petan was brought up by Elliotte Friedman. The Leafs might be looking for a trade partner here. Gosh, I hope no one has any opinions about this in the comments.
From our friend-enemies at MLHS, the difference between reasonable and ridiculous takes and why you’re at fault for it.
For those who like to “hate watch” things, have fun with O-Dog’s ridiculous takes on… John Tavares?
Mike Babcock on Andreas Johnsson, who missed the third period with a leg injury: “I think he’s going to be fine. The X rays were negative, we’ll see in the morning. He might not practice tomorrow but he’ll be back in.”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 20, 2019
From the Marlies, Kasimir Kaskisuo recorded his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters. Darren Archibald got his first as a Marlie and Egor Korshkov scored his fifth goal in five games. The Marlies are 5-0-0 to start the season and remain *perfect* on the penalty kill to start the season.
Just kidding. Freddy Gauthier for Captain.
Branches Around the League
Billie-Jean King is a QUEEN!
Greta Thunberg will join Sustainabiliteens at #FridaysforFuture climate strike at Vancouver Art Gallery – Straight.com
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NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Space Station Cargo Launch – PRNewswire
Society says City of Kamloops price tag for new performing arts centre would not exceed $45 million – CFJC Today Kamloops
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Maxar Technologies – Baystreet.ca
Meet NASA's New Leader of Human Spaceflight Operations – Space.com
NASA spacewalk: Watch the historic moment astronauts leave ISS on all-female spacewalk – Express.co.uk
Incumbents hold onto Vancouver seats
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National Arts Centre receives landmark $10-million gift
How the RCMP found Canada's most wanted fugitives with a raven, a Cree trapper and luck
Calgary Board of Education bars elementary student climate change protest
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NASA stunned: Scientist asks 'was Einstein wrong?' after object breaks laws of physics – Express.co.uk
Fall Fairs 2019: The art of the sale (and bazaar and boîte de Noël) – Montreal Gazette
Door Dash data breach personal information stolen
Asteroid alert: NASA tracked rock about to skim Earth at 23,400mph tonight – Will it hit? – Express.co.uk
Barbara Kay: Concordia's Liberal Arts College finds it's not immune to cancel culture – National Post
For better or worse, 29Rooms raises important questions about art in the age of Instagram – CBC.ca
Everything you Need to Know About Jagmeet Singh
80K people gather Vancouver streets for Climate Strike
Vancouver luxury real estate market to get a boost
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