The U.S. Badminton Team trials are held every year at this time, and the top five men and women go on to represent Team USA in the Thomas and Uber Cups and the Pan American Games. This year's trials took place at the Boston Badminton Club in Westborough, Mass., the first time the event has ever been held outside of California. Michelle Seaton reports for Only A Game.
Yvonne Chern learned the sport of badminton by playing with her husband and children. But the 56-year-old was the one to dream of opening the first championship-caliber badminton facility on the East Coast.
Chern's creation, Boston Badminton, cost $2.4 million to build. It boasts eight full-size courts and 35-foot ceilings, radiant heaters to reduce drafts, and customized wall paneling to maximize the visibility of the bird. According to the competitors, the new club lived up to their expectations.
"The bird flies well and the courts are great," said Howard Shoo of Orange County, Calif. "The only thing is that it's cold in here. But what can you expect? It's the East Coast!"
Chern hopes that the complex in Westborough will help the sport gain popularity in the region.
"We hope this badminton will grow a lot in the East Coast," Chern said. "It has grown dramatically in the West Coast, San Francisco alone has 14 dedicated facilities, and these are all more than 20-court facilities. This 8 court facility is the biggest in the East Coast. So we have a lot of catching up to do."
Andy Chong, a native of Malaysia and once a top internationally-ranked player, coaches the U.S. team and was hired to act as the full-time coach in Westborough. He believes that, thanks to Boston Badminton, the sport now has a promising future east of the Mississippi.
"Its important because if you compare it to California there's so many facilities there and there's so many players. And competition [in California] is so much greater than the players on the East Coast," explained Chong. "So we need a facility like this so they can have regular training program going on and hopefully get a lot of young kids to start and then build up from there."
This segment aired on December 10, 2011.