Senior competes overseas in international tournament

October 27, 2017 — by Jeffrey Xu

Senior Stephen Ding is the school’s best badminton player. Recently, he had the chance to match his skills against some of the best youth players in the world.

Ding was invited to represent the U.S World Junior Team in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Junior Championships, held in Indonesia from Oct. 9 to Oct. 14. Ding left for Indonesia on Oct. 6 though, in order to prepare for the tournament with his teammates there.

Even with the tough competition, such as China’s team, which ranked first, and Japan’s, which ranked second, according to Tournamentsoftware.com, the U.S. team still came close to being in the top 16 teams and advancing to the elimination round. They took 17th place after the round robin matches.

The team barely missed placing 16th, losing a critical game that Ding said should have been theirs, if one of his teammates had not gotten injured in the middle of it.

Ding, who played mixed doubles, went 2-3 over five matches. He said he “underperformed a bit” on the last game he played, but thought he played pretty well.

Although he played doubles, Ding believes that by practicing more singles, he could be a more versatile member for the team since he would be able to play in any category.

The U.S World Junior Team consisted of the top four boys and four girls from the Junior International Trials (JIT), which was held in Seattle last spring.

At the BWF Junior Championships, the U.S. team matched up against India, Sweden, Hungary and Australia in a round-robin style tournament.   

Each match consisted of five different events: boys singles, boys doubles, girls singles, girls doubles and mixed doubles. In order for a national team to beat another country, it had to win at least three out of the five events.

Still, not every player on the World Junior Team was guaranteed a spot in one of the events. According to Ding, the U.S national coach ultimately decided whether some players would be benched and whether other players would compete in more than one event, based on their practice performance and teamwork.

The lineup decision was also based on player input about what event they felt they could play best in, which motivated Ding to speak up for himself.

“As players, we had to tell the coach what we were most confident in, so from that I learned to be more outspoken and be more firm with my opinion,” Ding said.

Ding said he was glad to be chosen to play in order to showcase his hard work and represent his country.

In preparation for the tournament, Ding had put in hours of practice. In addition to his three-hour training sessions at Bintang Badminton Academy four days a week, Ding had been attending the two-hour U.S. team practices, where building team coordination was just as important as sharpening individual skills, since three out of the five events involve two players on the court.

In Indonesia, however, the U.S. team did not have access to a badminton gym and trained in normal gyms, where they conditioned by running and weightlifting. According to Ding, these practices were scheduled in the morning to get the team members’ bodies moving.

Despite the results of the tournament, Ding still views his experience in Indonesia in a positive light.

“Even though we didn’t advance, I think we did pretty well as a team,” Ding said. “It was also lots of fun taking a break from school and competing in the sport I’ve been playing for eight years.”

 

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