Photo by Sarah Manley

Rackets smashed and birdies flew this past weekend at the East Field House. Teams of two players faced off against each other.

The players came for Slugminton, an annual UCSC badminton club tournament. The gym was packed with UCSC students, high school students and alumni all wielding rackets, ready to hit the court.

Slugminton is an annual event dating back to about five years ago, said badminton club finance officer James Tu. Participants paid a fee to compete against each other for prizes. The competition gives the team a chance to fundraise.

“It’s to help raise money,” said freshman Gina Alfandary, incumbent president of the club next season. “We get a little from the school, but not enough.”

The fundraiser was a success for the club. Students anticipated their names being called to play on one of the courts. They faced off against other competitors or UCSC club players for first- and second-place prizes. There were matches for players at different levels, including beginners’ open doubles, intermediate or advanced men’s and women’s doubles and a mixed doubles round. At about 40 attendees for the tournament, UCSC club players were glad to see a great turnout.

“There’s a lot more people than last year,” said club president Jenny Yip. “We had more time to advertise.”

The tournament can recruit new players, too. With about 34 players currently on the team, the club has potential for growth. In particular, finance officer James Tu wants to recruit women to join the club.

“There are only about 12 women on the team, which is about 35 percent,” Tu said. “We want to get our team out there. They don’t know about our badminton team.”

Alfandary said the tournament brings together different groups of people to play badminton together.

“We get some people from high schools in Northern California,” Alfandary said. “[Slugminton] is to get more people involved.”

Some players see Slugminton as a chance to hang out with old friends.

“It’s also a chance for alumni to come back,” junior Stephanie Tam said.

Yip has been playing badminton for eight years and mentioned that being part of the club has made for a great college experience. Yip noted the strong friendships she has attained since she started playing as a freshman.

“All my housemates are people I met with badminton,” Yip said. “We have retreats and team bonding. I loved the experience when I was a freshman. The upperclassmen looked out for the team. It went beyond badminton.”

Many of the players have been playing since high school and are glad to have the club.

“It’s nice to keep playing in college. But it’s a different feel, because we run our own team and organize everything,” freshman Michelle Otoshi said.

James Tu admitted that although badminton may be under the radar and underfinanced, the club looks to grow and stay alive. Tu wants the sport he loves to continue being played as a UCSC club. Freshman player and soon-to-be UCSC badminton club president Alfandary wants to clear up any misconceptions people may possess about the sport.

“People have the perception that it’s just a backyard sport,” Alfandary said. “But once you play it indoors, you come to love it.”