Junior Badminton in the USA Today


Courtesy of Benson Liang

2021 USA Badminton Junior National Championships, Concord, North Carolina, Jun 22-27, 2021

Benson Liang

After being cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the USA Badminton’s annual Junior National Championships was resumed this year and was held in Concord, North Carolina from June 22-27, 2021. Nearly 400 qualified players participated in the tournament, including the author who was the only player from Michigan this year.

Badminton has a long history in the USA. USA Badminton (USAB), the national governing body of the sport, was first established in 1936 under the name of American Badminton Association and later changed to its current name in 1996. In addition to hosting national tournaments and sending teams to major international events for adults, the USAB also hosts a series of junior tournaments in the USA.

“The junior tournaments make playing badminton more enjoyable and challenging for young players,” said Justin Xia, a junior badminton player in the Chicago area.

The USAB sanctioned junior badminton tournaments are played in three geographical levels in increased competitiveness: Local, Regional, and National. The junior National Championships is held once a year. It is the most competitive and assigns highest ranking points to players. The Regional tournaments are played twice a year in each of the six regions as divided by USAB. Michigan is part of the Midwest region that has its junior regional tournaments held in the Chicago area. Ranking points assigned to players for regional tournaments are weighed at 40 percent that of the national tournament. Local tournaments are usually held one to several times a year within each region at a specific city with Ranking points being weighed at 10 percent that of the national tournament.

In normal years, all junior badminton tournaments are scheduled in advance. In 2019, there were over 25 USAB sanctioned junior badminton tournaments held nationwide. In 2020, however, only a few were held at the beginning of the year while all the rest scheduled after March were cancelled due to the pandemic. So far in 2021, only the aforementioned Junior National Championship was held, partly due to the reason that it also served as the selection event for attending the Pan American tournament representing the USA. 

Other than the tournaments, badminton playing and training were also inevitably affected nationwide during the period. 

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, where eight badminton courts are normally scheduled, were closed for six months before reopening again in reduced capacity. In California, the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club in the Los Angeles area was closed for over a year. In the Chicago area, the Egret Badminton Club was also closed for a few months, and resorted to online sessions during that time for its junior players to keep up with the strength and skills training.

Although the effect of the pandemic has not been insignificant, the enthusiasm for badminton training and playing remains high among young players as reflected by the continued coming back of players after gyms and badminton clubs gradually reopened nationwide. The resume of the 2021 Junior National Championships also showed lights at the end of the tunnel. 

“After the Junior National tournament, Egret Badminton Club applied for hosting a junior local open tournament in November 2021, and it was just approved by USAB,” said Kyle Chua, badminton coach at the Egret Badminton Club and former Malaysia National Team member, “our young players are eager to get back into action after being put on hold for such a long period of time.”

Now everyone is hoping and anticipating that more local and regional junior badminton tournaments may resume in the USA, and that most regularly scheduled junior tournaments for the year 2022 may be held as normal thereafter.