Friday, June 14, 2024

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Nepean’s Cole Thurgur tries high school tennis, wins OFSAA boys’ open singles bronze

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By Martin Cleary

Cole Thurgur has played a lot of sports at Nepean High School over the past four years – golf, volleyball, basketball and hockey.

But the Grade 12 student-athlete decided in his final year to try something new at the interscholastic level – tennis.

Already a competitive junior tennis player who reached the second round in boys’ U18 singles at this year’s Canadian winter national championships, he thought it would be an interesting experience to enter high school tennis and play in the open class.

His curiosity served him well.

After placing second in the boys’ open singles division at the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association championship finals last month, he qualified for the OFSAA provincial high school championships and earned the bronze medal on Wednesday.

The OFSAA championship season is coming to a close for the 2023-24 season this week and next week with multiple champions being determined in tennis, track and field, rugby, soccer, field lacrosse and baseball.

“It was fun. I’ve never experienced tennis at the high school level and I wanted to play,” Thurgur, 17, said in a phone interview on Thursday. “It was fun seeing people I know. It was more relaxed than some of the other tournaments.”

Thurgur added it also was the first time in a few years Nepean has had a tennis team. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in that.

“I got a couple of my friends to sign up because I thought it would be fun and a change from volleyball and basketball. They’re better than me in volleyball and basketball, but I’m better than them in tennis.”

Like any competitive athlete, Thurgur entered his first OFSAA tennis championship with hopes of being the last-man standing. He came close and “had a good time.”

Thurgur earned a first-round bye in the boys’ open singles main draw before winning his opening two matches by pro-set scores of 8-2 and 8-5. But he lost in the semifinals to Luke Laughlin, the third seed, by an 8-4 score.

His only loss dropped him into the consolation round, but he scored two important wins – 8-2 in the semifinals and 8-3 in the final over Alexandru Filoti, the fourth seed – to capture the bronze medal.

Thurgur has committed to attend Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, to study sports management and play for the tennis team in 2024-25.

Vlad Pirusca of Notre Dame followed a similar medal path, but lost to Filoti in the consolation semifinals 8-5. Earlier, he won three straight main draw matches before losing to top-seeded Lucas Mock 8-5 in the semifinals.

The NCSSAA earned a second bronze medal, when Alex Zhang and Victoria Zhu of Ashbury won four of their five main draw and consolation round matches to finish third in the mixed doubles open competition.

They won their first two matches in the main draw, before losing in their semifinals. But they were undefeated in the consolation round, posting wins of 8-1 and 8-3 in their respective semifinal and final.


The OFSAA track and field championships, which are considered one of the largest high school athletics meets in North America, started with a bang Thursday, at least from an Ottawa perspective.

Tahlia Aird-Greaves of Gisèle-Lalonde won the first gold medal of the provincial meet in London, when she rallied from a slow and concerning opening to win the girls’ novice long jump with a best performance of 5.41 metres.

Aird-Greaves struggled early as her first two jumps measured only 3.50 metres and 3.34 metres. Needing a much better jump in the third round to qualify for the final eight and three more jumps, she sailed 5.12 metres and moved into fourth place.

For her final three jumps, she went 5.22 metres, 5.41 metres and 5.03 metres.

Maxime Chartrand of Louis-Riel also was an opening-day medallist, when he cleared 3.10 metres to earn bronze in the boys’ novice pole vault. Christian Futo of Chaminade won with an OFSAA record vault of 4.25 metres.

On the track, the runners were involved in qualifying heats for finals in the 2,000-metre steeplechase, the 400 metres, the 1,500 metres and the 4×100-metre relays.

Grace Streek of Peak Centre Academy posted the fastest time in the girls’ open steeplechase heats, which she won in seven minutes, 15.09 seconds.

Three NCSSAA runners qualified for the 12-athlete boys’ open steeplechase final – Louis-Riel’s Daniel Cova, first, 6:08.22; Glebe’s Derek Strachan, fourth, 6:16.43; and Colonel By’s Owen Siderius, fifth, 6:10.19.

Zachary Jeggo of Louis-Riel and Stephan Balson of Lisgar placed one-two respectively in the boys’ senior 400-metre heats in 47.99 seconds and 48.45 seconds. William Sanders of St. Mother Teresa was eighth in 49.29 seconds.

Ayoub Shangai of Louis-Riel won his boys’ junior 400-metre heat and was second overall in 50.86 seconds.

Immaculata’s Ellie McGregor qualified third for the girls’ novice 400-metre final with a time of 59.40 seconds.

Glebe’s Saul Taler and Woodroffe’s Max Wilson were fourth and ninth in the boys’ senior 1,500-metre heats in respective times of 3:58.91 and 3:57.52. Taler was second in the first heat, while Wilson placed fifth in the second heat.

Shannon Dewar of St. Francis Xavier was the eighth and final qualifier in the girls’ junior 400 metres in 58.95 seconds.

De La Salle’s Bianca Arabackyj was the 11th qualifier in the girls’ novice 1,500 metres in 4:53.99.


Glebe settled for the antique bronze medal at the OFSAA girls’ AAA rugby championship in Peterborough, after a 22-7 loss to Bayside.

The Gryphons defeated Nantyr Shores 20-5 and Mayfield 17-14 in their first two games before losing to Thomas A. Stewart 17-0.

In the girls’ A/AA rugby championship in Clarington, Ashbury turned back Eastdale 33-14, but was eliminated following a 19-5 loss to Centre Dufferin.

The two OFSAA boys’ rugby championships opened Thursday with mixed results for Ottawa teams.

In the A/AA tournament in Stratford, Ashbury beat Eastdale 29-12, while Cairine Wilson fell 10-3 to Centennial. Sacred Heart lost 15-12 to Northern in its AAA opener. Andrew Stevenson was named the man of the match for Sacred Heart.


St. Mark and Sacred Heart earned top-10 results during the OFSAA boys’ open field lacrosse festival.

After losing 13-11 to Huntsville and 15-6 to McKinnon Park, St. Mark rallied to defeat E.L. Crossley 10-2 and King’s Christian 7-6 to finish in ninth place during the A/AA tournament in Sutton/Keswick.

At the AAA tournament in Georgetown, Sacred Heart followed a similar plan, losing 10-4 to Denis Morris and 9-7 to Milton before defeating St. Joseph’s 13-6 and Assumption 10-5.


Louis-Riel was undefeated after the first day of the OFSAA boys’ AA soccer championship in North Bay, earning a 1-1 tie with St. Joan of Arc and outscoring L’Essor 4-2. Paul-Desmarais countered its opening 4-0 loss to Harbord with a 1-0 win over Crestwood.

At the boys’ AAA soccer championship in Windsor, St. Mother Teresa lost 2-1 to Neil McNeil before defeating Bradford 3-1.

St. Mother Teresa picked up its only point in the OFSAA girls’ AAA soccer championship at Windsor from a 1-1 draw with St. Thomas of Villanova. Mother Teresa lost its other game 1-0 to Korah. Earl of March fell 6-0 to Lawrence Park and 8-1 to St. Thomas Aquinas.

Louis-Riel rebounded from a 3-0 opening loss to St. Mary of Hamilton at the OFSAA girls’ soccer A/AA championship in St. Thomas with a 6-1 decision over Sir Oliver Mowat.


At the OFSAA East Regional baseball championship in the Durham region, St. Joseph lost to St. Max Kolbe 8-5 and Cobourg 12-2.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 51 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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