Ottawa’s Malik Bhatnagar exited the Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club on Friday with one Canada Summer Games gold medal in his pocket and an eye on another gold on Saturday.
Bhatnagar, 18, played a key role in Ontario capturing the gold medal in the mixed team competition with a 4-2 decision over British Columbia in the best-of-seven series of men’s and women’s singles and doubles matches.
After winning his men’s singles team match early in the day 6-2, 6-0 against Stefan Mitrovic, Bhatnagar became a cheerleader for Team Ontario before returning to the court for a semi-final match in men’s singles.
The third-seeded Bhatnagar, who will head to Stetson University in Florida on a tennis scholarship later this month, won 6-3, 6-3 against top-seeded Taha Baadi of Quebec, the No. 6-ranked under-18 boys’ singles player in Canada. Bhatnagar plays out of the ACE Tennis Academy in Burlington and is No. 7.
Bhatnagar, who is undefeated in three team and two individual matches at the Games, will play for men’s singles gold against Gatineau’s Nicaise Muamba, a player he has never defeated.
“It has been a super, exciting day,” Bhatnagar said in a telephone interview. “I won my singles match quickly and then supported the team. I really like the atmosphere here, the big crowds, and it’s loud. I thrive in that environment.”
Muamba followed a similar game plan, helping Quebec take the mixed team bronze medal 4-2 over Alberta. He won his men’s singles team match 6-2, 6-2 over Oscar Yang and outlasted Victor Krustev of Toronto 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a singles semifinal.
Bhatnagar and Muamba weren’t the only athletes from the national capital region celebrating on Friday.
After winning two gold medals on Thursday, Rideau Canoe Club’s Rowan Hardy-Kavanagh nabbed silver in women’s C1 200 metres in 52.35 seconds.
Kayaker August Sibthorpe of Rideau added a silver medal to Tuesday’s two golds, finishing second with Lucy Pennyfather of Oakville in the women’s K2 200 metres in 40.270 seconds.
Hardy-Kavanagh and Carleton Place’s Lindsay Irwin formed half of the Ontario women’s IC4 200-metre boat, which placed fourth; Rideau’s Joe Spratt of Gananoque was in the Ontario men’s K4, 200-metre boat, which was fourth; and Katherine Markhauser of Gatineau and Rideau’s Lexy Vincent were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the women’s K1 5,000 metres.
Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club’s David Quirie and Natation Gatineau’s Louis Bertrand placed fourth and fifth in the men’s 1,500-metre freestyle final. Gloucester Ottawa Kingfish’s Regan Rathwell of Ashton was fifth in the women’s 200-metre individual medley.
Gael Shindano of the Ottawa Swim Club was eighth in the men’s 50-metre freestyle, Special Olympics division.
In men’s soccer, Ontario shut out Quebec 2-0 in a semifinal. It will play the winner of the Alberta-Manitoba game in the final.
Ontario will attempt to win its third Games’ gold medal in men’s indoor volleyball after defeating British Columbia 19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-13 in a semifinal. Its opponent will be defending champion Alberta, which downed Quebec 25-19, 28-26, 25-22.