Do not cast badminton under the shadow of tennis.


Eric Anada

Badminton is not an inferior sport to tennis.

With racket cases slung across our shoulders, my team and I navigated through an unknown school campus on our way to a badminton tournament. But the journey was cut short when a couple of students on campus stopped to inform us, “The tennis courts are in the opposite direction.” That sure ruffled some feathers. One of my team members immediately retorted, “We’re the badminton team!” 

While this exchange was both humorous and annoying at once, it was not a unique one. 

I grew up playing badminton and tennis and this gave me the rare opportunity to experience how terribly different the two sports are, despite them being racket games. I learned how to switch from the horizontal shuffle footwork of tennis to the diagonal shuffle of badminton. These movements match the width of the respective sport’s court. Soon I could move between the heavy, wide-set tennis racket and the tennis ball to the longer badminton racket net and a light-weight birdie. Form training always highlighted the focus on forearm strength for badminton whereas tennis required more full-arm strength. Even beyond this, there are countless other factors that distinguish the sports from one another, such as the scoring system, the types of standard shots and equipment. 

One of the Dougherty Valley High School (DVHS) badminton team’s captains, Manav Bokinala, explains, “I think most of the time it’s just new players to either the sports who are confused about things. For example, tennis has the concept of a first serve, in badminton that doesn’t exist. I know tennis is scored differently than badminton. There’s no concept of an overhand serve in badminton.” 

The knowledge I gained on these games’ differences from training is not something I see reflected in the general public’s perspectives. 

When I speak about having trained as a badminton player, I am often asked about it in comparison with tennis, sometimes even having badminton mistaken as tennis.

When I speak about having trained as a badminton player, I am often asked about it in comparison with tennis, sometimes even having badminton mistaken as tennis. And unfortunately, most conversations about tennis end up overshadowing badminton. 

This skewed perspective is understandable to some extent because of the little focus awarded to badminton on a national level regarding sports. While tennis already has a strong fanbase, the lack of media coverage and sponsors push badminton into the corner, and the little success Team USA has had at international badminton tournaments adds insult to the injury. 

Even so, we have got to stop assuming badminton and tennis are the same sport, or putting one above the other. Especially at DVHS, where our badminton team has been undefeated in their league for the past five years.

Bokinala breaks it down, “We placed, I believe, third in our North Coast Section (NCS) championships last year. We’ve consistently won our East Bay Athletics League (EBAL) championships every year. We’re proud of our legacy of winning and excited to continue it this year.”

With our school badminton team shining brightly, it is a disservice for so many people, namely at DVHS, to hold little awareness about the sport and put it beneath tennis. 

And not to mention the disservice this comparison also does to tennis which holds its own individual strengths. 

Instead of putting badminton and tennis into the same box because they are both racket sports, we should not limit our attention to one versus the other. We should aim to expand our knowledge and appreciate each sport as an individual game that holds a distinct history and special qualities.