Cheung soars like a birdie

 Stephanie Cheung, the top ranked community college badminton player in northern California,takes a swing during practice. (Neill Herbert)

Stephanie Cheung, the top ranked community college badminton player in northern California,takes a swing during practice. (Neill Herbert)

Stephanie Cheung is a business administration major at College of San Mateo, but she plays badminton for Skyline, since CSM has no team.

This season is Cheung’s second year playing on the badminton team here, but she’s been playing badminton for about eight years.

Cheung moved to the Bay Area from Hong Kong about a year and half ago. She was first introduced to badminton in Hong Kong.

“My family brought me to the Hong Kong Sports Institute,” Cheung said. “There are all different sports played there. I got into competitions there.”

Cheung is currently the #1 ranked community college badminton player in northern California. Last year, she finished the season with the same rank in singles and the #2 rank in doubles. Cheung says there are a lot of components that factor into her winning record.

“My parents support me, so does the whole team and the coach, of course,” Cheung said. “I practice, try to think of strategy. I figure out the other player’s weakness.”

Cheung says that pressure is good for her. She likes being able to overcome the challenge of her opponents.

Cheung has been in hundreds of competitions and open Bay Area Tournaments and has won many trophies. But she’s aware that she can still always use improvement.

“I need to learn skills from others, like doubles skills,” Cheung said.

Last year’s championship team was Cheung’s first team championship since she came to the United States. While the game of badminton has the same format here and in Hong Kong, Cheung’s had to get used to playing on a whole new team at Skyline.

This year, Cheung and the badminton team clinched the Conference Championship again, so the defending champs are returning to the state championship meet again. Cheung remembers of some of the tough competitors she faced.

“Last year there were these twin sisters who took #1 in state doubles,” Cheung said. “They were really good. They already transferred to a university. This year there will be tougher competition.”

Badminton is Cheung’s favorite sport and it shows when she plays. Not only does she try her hardest, but she has fun. She plays with a smile on her face and doesn’t get upset when she or her partner makes a mistake. She plays other sports as well, but none on a team.

Cheung loves that badminton is more than a physical activity.

“You need strategy, patience, and to be on the same level as your opponent,” Cheung said. “There’s a psychology aspect too. It’s more than physical; it’s also mental and strategy.”

Badminton is a great sport for Cheung now, but she has other plans for the future.

“I want to be an auditor for my future career,” Cheung said while laughing. “So it’s different from what I’m doing now.”

Cheung does have some advice for fellow badminton players to improve all skills.

“Listen to advice from your peers,” Cheung said. “Just feel into it, and you will be into it.”