First weekend of 2018 and Azhi and I managed to win not only the game, but a team tournament! If that’s not a good omen, I don’t know what is.
It wasn’t my club, but Azhi’s club. It was a friendly cross-club competition with a huge number of players. Turns out that the other club was my friend Steph. Steph was my partner in the Yonex competition and she’s miles better than me. She’s also the first woman I knew who was a gaoshou (expert) and I’ve always kinda seen her as a measuring stick of my progress.
We didn’t play against each other, but I took down her teammates in a nail biting 2:1 showdown. The first game Azhi and I won swiftly 21:16 despite our competitors being the same level as us. Azhi doesn’t quite have the same killer instinct and competitive edge I have so he let his guard down in the second game. It’s almost like he feels guilty about winning, and to make it up he doesn’t focus or play as hard.
We held on for a bit but lost our second game 14:21. That gave them confidence, so even though we upped our third game it was close ending at 21:19. A real nail biter!
Actually the umpire messed up and almost cost us the game. We watched the games before us and we could see the umpire wasn’t the best. Players would be confused who would receive the serve or whatever and when they looked to her for guidance she couldn’t help.
So in our game the score was 17:15 when the umpire called out “18:15.”Azhi and I looked at each other. We knew that wasn’t right.
“17,” I said to the umpire.
“17:15” Azhi repeated. She looked at her paper and said no. “18:15.”
“No, 17. We have 17,” we both protested.
“You have 18, they have 15,” she insisted. So there was nothing to do, but Azhi was annoyed. I mean, her mistake favored us, but sometimes that’s almost worse right? You don’t just feel anger at the injustice but guilt too. And when you feel guilty it’s easy to give the next few points to your opponents to make up for it. So within a minute we were 18-18 and it was only the last few points we got serious again and buckled down.
But hey! We won! Also, the club we were playing for won 19:11.
It was also really fun. Despite rarely playing at this court (it’s crazy far away from my house and crazy out of the city) I knew a lot of people at the competition, many of whom I hadn’t seen in a few months including several member of the women’s club I used to go to. So it was very social, and very fun and I got to play (and win) several games of women’s doubles all with excellent, competitive players which was a rare treat.
Also, later, when they released an article about the competition, I wasn’t in it. As the only blond white person that plays in these competitions I’m always in the article after the competition. I make it look “international” and it’s a joke that whoever plays with me will get extra publicity if they want it or not.
But this time they didn’t and that makes me happy! It means they are getting used to me, that I’m getting a little boring and am just “one of the gang.” Maybe I’m reading too much into it, maybe the picture of me was just too bad to include, or maybe whoever wrote the article wanted pics of his or her friends. But anyway, I take it as another good sign.
I’ve been entering competitions regularly now for the about 9 months. And as much as I need to get used to competitions, I need the Chinese badminton world to get used to me.
Onward and upward 2018!