Despite injury and lack of practice time, the birdies of the NYU Badminton team flew past their competitors this season.
NYUminton, as the players call themselves, dominated matches against Princeton and Rutgers universities at Rutgers on Saturday. After losing their first game, first-time mixed doubles pair graduate student Qian “Tina” Ma and CAS junior Karan Baweja adapted to win the last two games of their match.
Stern freshman Andy Xia said although singles player and graduate student Dong Wu lost against one of Princeton’s best players, the match was exciting.
“The level he played at that game was very impressive, consistent, explosive and patient,” Xia said.
NYUminton earned second place on Feb. 2 at the 2014 YONEX Northeast Collegiate Team Badminton Championships. During the premier year of Boston Badminton’s tournament, 16 schools from the northeast region competed in two divisions in Westborough, Mass., from Feb. 1 to 2. NYU played in Division I and qualified for the finals but lost to Drexel University, the one team they did not defeat in the regular season.
Matches against Syracuse University and Drexel left the players injured and fatigued the first day. Relying on IcyHot and team massages, NYU improved the next day.
CAS senior Mingqi Wu braved the second day of YONEX with a sprained ankle, and NYUminton reversed the upset of falling behind new opponent Cornell University with 4-5 to qualify for finals.
Since the team went to YONEX during the first week of the semester, Head Coach Devin Dobrowolski and the team captains, Stern sophomore Wanmeng Zhang and Baweja, held a one-day practice session and team scrimmage in Flushing to prepare.
“One thing that the team has constantly struggled with is adequate practice time,” Dobrowolski said. “It’s hard to become better than your competition when they can practice two, three or four times more than you can every week.”
NYUminton practices at Coles Sports and Recreation Center, sharing court space with the volleyball, basketball and tennis teams, as well as other club sports. The players have one team practice each week on Sundays and a recreational practice for all club members on Fridays.
To keep up with other schools, Dobrowolski dedicates the first 30 minutes of practice to intense conditioning. Practice also helps Dobrowolski select the top 10 men and women to make the official team, out of NYUminton’s 75 active members.
Typically, the team competes with about six schools per academic year, as well as other tournaments, playing against schools from across the nation in the Intercollegiate Badminton Association. The season ended with a record of 4-0-1. With only five matches this semester instead of six, NYUminton came close to the same record as last year, 5-0-1.
Kunta Wu, who spent six and a half years on the team before graduating from the Graduate School of Arts and Science in January, said the team’s closeness is essential for success.
“I think the fiercest weapon of our team is our trust and team bonding,” Wu said. “We believe that as long as we are together, we can beat anyone.”
The team prepares for their first New York City Badminton Team Invitational Tournament on April 19 and the IBA championships in May. The captains look to improve the players’ accuracy and stamina before then.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 27 print edition. Kathryn Jones is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com