In a Flash: Back at Badminton

YJ Si, Editor-in-Chief

He’d tried basketball. He’d tried tennis. Luke Zheng (12) couldn’t enjoy either one. He hated getting physical in basketball. He was getting tired of tennis. 

In the eighth grade, he decided to try badminton. For Zheng, it clicked. He started to have fun. Badminton didn’t need physicality or strength. It needed technique.

In the ninth grade, Zheng went to a badminton tournament in Balboa Park, expecting to win at least one round in either singles, doubles or mixed.

He lost the first round of every event.

Zheng had a plan for the year after. He was going to attend a grueling training camp in China,  play harder, and return home to win his tournaments.

In China, he learned to play more aggressively. His reaction time decreased. His footwork improved.

Zheng returned his sophomore year ready to play. He’d told all of his friends to join the badminton team. He proudly donned his badminton jacket.

But right as he began to play, his season was cut short by the pandemic. He’d practiced endlessly, and he felt robbed of a season he should’ve been winning.

So, like everyone else in the pandemic, he waited, and hoped for the best.

His junior year didn’t pan out either. Their usual coach was unavailable, and the team couldn’t organize any players. So Zheng kept waiting.

This year, they found a coach. They’re in the normal time frame of a normal season. This year, Zheng is a captain of the badminton team. 

He’s not sure what it might take for him to be a leader. He doesn’t have a lot to base his style on—he’s only seen one full season of how a captain normally leads. He’d hoped to learn the ropes his junior year.

But he knows it means he has to be there for everybody. He knows it means thinking beyond his own games and his own performance. He knows that being a captain means helping everyone improve.

If that means he’s the one serving up birdies to his teammates during practice, he’s okay with that. If that means he’s on the sideline cheering more often than he’s playing, he’s okay with that. 

This year, Zheng doesn’t plan to stress about winning the big tournament, or beating every school in the county. This year, Zheng just wants his teammates to enjoy playing the game he already loves.

And he’s okay with that.