By Cyrus Gutnick
They stand on the court, ready, like warriors prepared for battle, on edge, balanced on the balls of their feet. They wield a racquet in one hand and the other is held up, palm facing the opponent, a stance that keeps them ready for anything that comes their way.
For a sport that often makes its appearance in grandma’s backyard, these athletes call upon all their reflexes and agility to swat down a speeding birdie without mercy.
This is badminton.
The badminton team is one of a few sports on the UC Santa Cruz campus that does not have NCAA recognition, despite its status as an Olympic sport.
NCAA or not, this strong and dedicated Tier 1 team means business, and has an experienced adviser who’s on the same page.
Jim Bosco, who recently turned 80 and still competes in badminton tournaments, is there for the players when they need direction, but he avoids falling into the role of bossy coach.
“A coach tells you what to do, and you don’t play if you don’t do what he tells you to do,” Bosco said. “An adviser is here to help and instruct, but you have to ask.”
Bosco, a World Masters Champion in badminton, volunteers his time to advise the club.
“They are doing it on their own,” Bosco said. “I just help.”
The team has played in two matches so far this season against UC Berkeley in October and UC Davis in November.
Despite defeats in both matches, the team had pride coming off the court having given the competition a good fight.
With two matches under its belt, the team is nearing the midpoint of its season. The next match is scheduled for Feb. 2 and will be held at Stanford.
“I feel confident about taking the win,” said club president sophomore Renald Tamsey. “We can really use our talent [as] a Tier 1 team.”
Club vice president George Zhong added that the match “should be competitive,” but nothing should be taken for granted.
As a club, badminton is thriving with 40 or so members, 15 of whom travel to the competitions and represent the team. Matches consist of singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
“In here the women are strong and keep [pace with the men], which makes for a more exciting match,” Tamsey said. “When the males and females can perform at the same level, it makes for unlimited possibilities.”
Upon the completion of the West Field House renovations, the badminton club will be hosting a tournament open to all interested players, which will include matches, instruction, and prizes for participants.
The team hopes to hold the tournament in the spring, should the West Field House be completed. Until then, the team keeps moving forward, hoping to improve its record with a couple big wins in upcoming tournaments.