UOIT brothers courting success

UOIT Ridgebacks men's badminton brother duo, Sheng Chen and Zhiyi Chen, in action. Photo credit: goridgebacks.com

UOIT badminton team members and brothers, Sheng and Zhiyi Chen, have been getting plenty of attention on the Ridgebacks’ website and social media outlets recently.

For good reason. The doubles team has had a strong start to the season and are anxious to play their next event, here at UOIT.

The Chen brothers will be playing at the Ridgeback Badminton Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 13-14 in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre.

“It will be a really good tournament, I think,” says Sheng Chen. “The Quebec team, the Ontario Canada Winter team, Quebec’s Canada Winter team and other universities, such as [Laval], U of T, McMaster and Western. [They] are all coming to play at this invitational.”

Their most recent success was winning bronze at the Yonex Quebec Elite on Sept. 22-23. They came in third place for the collegiate doubles category.

“It [was] the first major tournament of the season, so we weren’t sure what we were getting into. It’s been three years since I’ve played a national circuit tournament, so I wasn’t used to way it worked,” says Sheng Chen. “The level of play is higher than the university circuit. [These players] spend more time training than we do because we spend more time in school.”

Zhiyi Chen says the duo faced some initial challenges in Quebec.

“It was a rocky start,” he says. “There was a lot of difficulties with tournament management. In tournaments, when people play they usually have a set time. In Quebec, the tournament director decided to play ahead of time. We had to rush to get ready,”

The Chens interest in badminton started at a young age. Zhiyi Chen says his parents introduced him to badminton when he was six-years-old and he started playing the sport recreationally with his family.

“Our dad brought us up to play [badminton] when we were younger just for fun, as a little bit of exercise. That was when we lived in Singapore,” says Sheng Chen.

At the age of 12, after living in the United States for a few years, they moved to Canada. They started recreational lessons and eventually started more intensive training and began to compete at Lee’s Badminton Club in Markham.

“[Our dad] helped out a lot. He played a pretty big role because he is the one who would watch YouTube videos of professionals [playing] and analyze,” says Sheng Chen.

Zhiyi Chen has fond memories growing up with his brother and sharing a common interest in badminton. He says they bonded through playing badminton because they had to work together.

“It was pretty fun [growing up together]. I had someone to talk to about badminton, on how to improve [myself] and tips [on playing the sport],” says Zhiyi Chen.

The brothers also share similar academic pursuits – both are studying mechanical engineering. Zhiyi Chen, 19, is a first-year mechanical engineering student, after switching out of Forensic Science. Sheng Chen, 21, was studying kinesiology before changing his major to mechanical engineering.

In addition to their team success, Zhiyi has also performed well in singles events.

He is proud of his third place finish in a national competition while attending Bayview Secondary School and made it to the finals last year at the Ryerson Open.

“The biggest [doubles accomplishment] is that we won the collegiate category at the Boston Open in May,” says Sheng.