Got second place in the university badminton games again (women’s doubles–there was 9 teams total). This was the competition I got second at last year too, and I played both times with Bai Laoshi. Last year I was a nervous wreck and we lost totally because of me.
But not this time! Our final game was quite good with the score neck and neck. First we were up a few points, then they were. They got to 15 first (it was a 30 point game where we switched sides at 15), but we were only one point behind them. Then we pulled ahead in the upper 20’s but they were close behind and a few mistakes from us (both me and Bai Laoshi hit serves into the net giving them 2 easy points) we found ourselves neck and neck.
Because it was a good game, and because it went on for longer, we attracted a little bit of a crowd. The score evened out at 28-28. Then our opponents got one more point, but then we caught up. 29-29. We volley a few times and my partner hits it out and we lost.
As soon as she hit it out the small crowd went crazy, but not in a celebratory way. They all jeered at Bai Laoshi pointing and shaking their heads in a “How could you!” kinda way. None of it was mean, everyone was laughing and smiling as Bail Laoshi is popular with the teachers, but they were literally laughing and pointing at her for making a mistake. Basically it was my biggest nightmare.
Because usually I’m the one messing up the critical shot. Usually the loss is because of me. And pointing and laughing, even in friendly jest, sucks, so I know how she must have felt. But selfishly I was happy. I didn’t have to say sorry to her, she was saying sorry to me!
So even though we didn’t win, it is still a victory of sorts. I’m getting more comfortable and competent with competitions in general. (She lost the last critical shot, but during the game I didn’t play especially bad and we made equal mistakes.) I’m also finding my “mental game” is stronger because this time Bai Laoshi psyched herself out, not me. She was worried about our opponents and said they were stronger than us before we played.
But I watched their previous games and saw that they weren’t. They could hit it well, didn’t make a ton of mistakes themselves, but they opened up a lot of opportunities for their opponent. I knew that even if our skill level was evenly matched, we were smarter. But Bai Loashi didn’t believe that and I think that’s why it was such a close game.
But losing by one point was a big boost for Bai Laoshi too. We lost by a lot last time and she expected to lose by a lot this time too. Losing by one point showed her that we could win, and she was pumped up to prove herself next year (which she usually isn’t.)
There was one other thing I wanted to mention. In preparation for the tournament I played with Bai Laoshi two times in the last two weeks. Usually she plays at the university courts and I play at my coaches courts. I don’t like the other teachers (they have never been nice to me) so I never play with them which has made me feel left out a lot. (They never include me in any University teams which means I have missed out on competitions because they are the team I’m supposed to join, yet they don’t let me play.) But to prepare for this tournament I went two times to the schools courts. Neither time was super fun and as usual I felt awkward and like a burden.
One time Azhi came with me. We played a lot, both together and with other partners, and I won most of my games. When Azhi and I played together (against men’s doubles) we won by a lot.
As we left the gym Azhi said, “You know, it was weird. It was like they didn’t like playing with us. Like…they just wanted to play with themselves. It was weird. I get it if we were bad, but we were better than them. Instead of wanting to challenge themselves and improve it was like they just wanted us to go away.”
“YES!!” I said. “THANK YOU!!” because that’s how I feel all the time with them. When I was bad they didn’t want to play with me, and when I improved they STILL never want to play with me. It’s not like that with any other badminton group, so it’s not like a Chinese culture thing
We aren’t besties but they’ve now known me for 2 years so it’s not like they just don’t like playing with strangers. I’m not a stranger! And I could say maybe they just don’t like foreigners and think talking to me is annoying, but Azhi is Taiwanese and they can talk to him fluently. Same thing if they were sexist and didn’t like playing with a girl because Azhi is a boy, yet they reacted to him the same way they reacted to me. They are just super cliquey and besides Bai Laoshi I do not like playing with them at all. I’m just glad I have an outside perspective so I know it’s not just me.
Anyway, I now have two 2nd place wins, one third and a few 5th place wins under my belt. I will continue playing and training and one day that precious gold will be mine!