IASAS Badminton: Q&A with three-year varsity player Jessica Zhu ’11

EYE: Why did you choose badminton? What do you like about it?

Jessica: I’ve been playing badminton for a really long time. It started with just playing with my parents in the backyard, but I started training for real in fifth grade. My parents made me do it in the beginning, but in the end, I started really liking it. I love being part of a team.

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Mrs. Zitur (left), Jessica Zhu ’11 (middle), and Liwen Soh ’10 (right). Photo by Ariel So.

I like that badminton can be really versatile. It can be at a fast or slow pace. A lot can happen in just a few minutes, and each game is completely different from the last. It really depends on how you play, the opponent, and what game you play – like where you place the shot and why you’re placing it there.

EYE: What inspires you the most when the tournament gets tough? What keeps you going?

Jessica: My team. When I see them trying their best, it motivates me to do the best that I can. My partner [Liwen Soh ’10] is always encouraging me and giving me support.

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Coach Zitur giving the girls’ team a pep-talk during break. Photo by Ariel So.

I actually only started getting really into [badminton] my freshman year when I made varsity. It just made me feel like I can actually do it. The team was always motivating me, telling me I can do it. It really inspired me to keep playing and keep getting better.

EYE: What’s the best and worst part about IASAS?

Jessica: Best – playing all the games. Meeting new people. Bonding with my team. And worst – how nervous it makes you.

with partner
After a game. Photo by Ariel So.

Sometimes you get so caught up in trying to win that you forget how to have fun. So you just have to tell yourself to let go, relax, and just do your best.

EYE: How did you prepare for this year’s IASAS?

Jessica: A lot of training, especially with my partner. Drills, fitness workouts, footwork. Footwork’s really important. 

There’s this one practice we do where we have to place shuttles at each corner. Grab one [shuttle], go back to the middle, grab another, go back to the middle… It’s tiring, but really helpful… Gets you moving your feet fast, which helps with games… You learn how to move from any side of the court to another.

playing w partner
Mrs. Zitur (left), Jessica Zhu ’11 (middle), and Liwen  Soh ’10. Photo by Ariel So.

We train five times a week – sometimes six. We have Sunday training as well with an outside coach. He used to be on the Singaporean National Team, but he’s in college now studying to be a teacher. Those [practices] are open to everyone: middle-schoolers and JV.

EYE: What are your goals as an athlete? How do you work towards them?

Jessica: To do the very best that I can. Obviously to win, but also just to improve my fitness, skills, get to the best point that I can as a person… Just, keep getting better.

I’m not sure if there will always be a certain “best point” to get to, but just.. always keep working towards a better me. There’s always room for improvement I think.

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Jessica Zhu and her partner with Coach Zitur. Photo by Ariel So.

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