This is the second article in a five-part series on the 2019 National Championships held at Arena Badminton and Sports Club in Pomona, Calif. Tune in to read more articles!
As a previous junior athlete, Darren Yang (21) has actively competed and represented USA Badminton in several elite junior events. Now, as an adult, he hopes to continue competing in the adult circuit but finds that there seems to be a significant drop off of junior athletes as they transition into adulthood.
“If you want to stay competitive, it’s hard to find time to train [as an adult athlete]. Another aspect is funding (i.e., training fees, travel fees),” said Yang. “The adult circuit is extremely competitive. Coming out of juniors, even as a top junior athlete, your chances of passing first round are fairly low in the adult circuit.”
At the 2019 Adult National Championships this past December, Darren was able to fight through to the Men’s Singles Finals. At the Finals stage, he met an impressive, junior opponent, Joshua Yang (15). The two athletes displayed contrasting styles on the court, not just through their skillsets but also mentality.
While Joshua preferred deceptive shots, Darren countered those plays with perseverance and patience. Although Joshua seemed to have the home-court advantage as well as the crowd’s favor, Joshua was unable to capitalize on various opportunities due to Darren’s resilience and ability to play defense.
During crucial rallies, Darren did not allow Joshua’s shots to disrupt his rhythm. He remained calm, did not rush the rallies, and waited for opportunities to open for an offensive attack. This approach allowed Darren to fend off Joshua’s creative placement and deceptive shot selection. Darren was able to mentally overcome and outplay his opponent to win the Men’s Singles title in a close battle of two sets (21-18, 21-18).
“It was pretty nice. It’s a moment you look forward to in your career,” Darren reminisced. For Darren Yang, winning the 2019 National Adult Championships in the Men’s Singles division is his first Adult National title win after his decorated junior career.
“At the moment during the match, you’re only thinking about your strategy and gameplay. It’s almost hard to believe that you won afterwards.”
Though there were many obstacles during his journey to becoming a top adult athlete, Darren has taken his win at the 2019 Adult Championships as a motivator for future competitions.
“As long as you stick to training and make time for things that you care about, you can maintain and improve your skills throughout the challenges that may arise.”
During the current pandemic, Darren has been staying at home due to Shelter in Place orders in his locality.
“It’s been tough since all the clubs are closed. But I’ve been working out at home. Ideally, I should be more fit after quarantine.”
He looks forward to playing local and national tournaments once it becomes safe and permissible.
On behalf of USA Badminton, we’d like to congratulate Darren Yang for his accomplishment and his graduation. We hope to see his adult career progress over time. We also encourage our junior and adult athletes to stay strong and continue actively pursuing their dreams in badminton.
Catch our next article on Women’s Singles National Adult Champion, Esther Shi, next week!