Yonex Women’s Badminton Tournament 2017

This weekend I participated in the national Yonex Ladies Badminton Tournament tour in Xiamen.

Might as well get the bad news out of the way….we lost. We didn’t just lose, but we lost spectacularly. Out of 9 games we only won one.

I knew this would be a tough competition because my usual partner Mrs. Bai didn’t even want to play. She said the level was too high and she didn’t dare. So my Malaysian friend Steph played with me (and we made up the only foreign team so we ended up getting a lot of attention).

My partner was registered with her English name, and with my blond hair we were obviously the foreigners so the photographers tended to follow us around. Luckily they took some cool shots like this one of me and Steph signing our names on the board.

Steph is really good, and for the past 2 weeks we put in a lot of hours together. She introduced me to a new group of women players and I spent the majority of 2 weeks playing with them. We didn’t train persay, but we played a lot together. So I felt pretty prepared.

And the day of the competition I played okay. I’m prone to nerves, and choking, but aside from the first game I didn’t feel overwhelmingly nervous. I also played better than I normally do in competitions. My friend Azhi, who went to my last competition said I played much better this time, yet we still got trounced.

Steph is much better than me so she tended to take the back while I took the front.

We lost so spectacularly I couldn’t help but take it personally. It didn’t help that the next day was my birthday and because I had planned (hoped) to win the first day I was expecting to continue playing the next day and didn’t make any birthday plans. So I didn’t even have a party to look forward to which made me even more depressed.

Games were best 2 out of 3 but only to 15 points which threw me. They went by too quick. My partner echoed my feeling saying as soon as she was in the groove the game was suddenly over. I’ve never played a competition like that. It’s usually just one game to 21 or 30 points, although I appreciated the chance to play 2 out of 3.

Temps were 33 degrees (92F) outside and there was no air conditioning in the gym so it got crazy hot and humid over the 8 hours I was there. I was drinking room temp water and there was no cooling stations and by the end of the day the heat got to me. I had a slight fever and major headache and felt pretty crappy the next day. That’s not really an excuse because I always play in the sub-tropical heat but it didn’t help.

To me, every competition is the end of Rocky, the point where all my training and prep comes together and I best my opponent despite all odds. So when that doesn’t happen I feel like a complete failure. But I have to remember that actually I’m in the beginning of the Rocky montage scene and failure now will only help me later. (“Failure is the mother of success” is a Chinese saying I heard a lot afterwards from encouraging friends.)

Our division age 35+ had 40 teams, the most of any age bracket. Our first opponents, in this picture, came from a town several hours away. This wasn’t just a city tournament, but a provincial level tournament and these two ladies have been playing together for more than 10 years. The level of the tournament was quite high.

I know that next year, when I win and move onto the semi-finals I will get a major sense of accomplishment from going from zero to hero in a year. But I don’t like the NOW part. I don’t like being in the middle of the loser stage. I just want the hero.

Some good things came out of it all that helps me feel not as depressed. Because of the training I met a new group of amazing women players who I will now play with regularly. (I had been complaining that I had few opportunities to play with woman and now I have a regular all-women’s club.)

I was also surprised at how many women I knew at the competition and was super happy to have friends either win or get top 4 in their respective categories. It means I’m in the right company. As long as I stick with the winners I’ll get there someday.

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