For those of you living outside of America there is a major international holiday called Women’s Day on March 8th. Don’t know why America completely ignores it but it’s big in China. Women are allowed a half-day off work and usually get a bunch of gifts and flowers and what-not.
The Jimei Badminton Association decided to celebrate the holiday by having the first women’s only tournament! And yours truly joined in (‘natch).
My partner was Bai laoshi, a fellow teacher at my school who has been really nice and supportive of me playing badminton since the beginning. (Remember when I got jealous because my coach taught other students? That was her.)
And she asked me to be her partner. Nobody asks me. People are too scared because I’m a foreigner or I’m not good enough. But she did! Super cool.
We were one of 40 teams which is amazing. Like many sports, men dominate badminton, and usually women’s singles and doubles in tournaments is few and far between. (In Xiamen tournaments seem to be mixed doubles, men doubles and men’s singles, which means only one woman and 6 men per group.)
They originally planned for 20-something teams but had so many women sign up they had to extend it to 40 teams and even then they had to turn people away. It was awesome. And it was women of all ages from college students to women in their late 50’s. What a perfect way to celebrate a holiday for women.
Like the other tournament this one had seeds and you had to play all the teams within your seed so you were guaranteed four games in the morning. The top two teams in each seed would then continue on to the semi-finals.
The seeds were picked randomly, but somehow I got put into a tough one. We had no expert players and no bad players. We were all equally matched. It was ridiculous and something we noticed very quickly. All of the final scores in our group were very close, with three games won by only one point. (This tournament played by the rules whoever gets to 21 first wins.)
At first it was disheartening, especially when we looked over at the group next to us. They had several teams of total newbies (one girl was playing in jeans!) and we could have easily made it to the semi-finals if we were in that group.
Instead we had to fight for our lives in every single game. Since our games were so close they went on the longest (my seed was the last one to finish because our games were longer than others). But actually, this turned out awesome.
Playing challenging games is a million times more fun than playing an easy game. For a tournament win, sure, an easy game is better and I’m not gonna lie. I wish we could have met poor opponents in our seed. But, our games turned out to be fun, and I don’t regret playing them.
In fact, despite not knowing these ladies before, we quickly jelled as a group much more than the other seeds because of our equal level. We took pictures together, watched each others games, and wished each other luck, earnestly, as the games went on. No team won all their games, and no team lost all their games.
For me and my partner our most important game was the last one. We won our first game, then lost the two middle ones (we were very nervous and had a long break in between). Our last chance at going to the semi-finals was our last game, and at first, we were winning. Our opponents were two college students who had strength and skill but were just not playing together well.
But right at the end they did a few things right and we did a few things wrong and we lost by one goddamn point.
But, whatayagonna do? We tried our best and I got more practice of dealing with my nerves. I Still haven’t quite mastered them but deep breathing before each serve seemed to help.
And I had a good time. That’s most important right? Yeah, I don’t believe that shit either. I’ll win next time. 😉