MANILA, Philippines – Fatima Cruz may have suffered her first defeat as a member of the national badminton team but the youngster is not about to lose hope.
The 18 year-old Cruz lost to Hong Kong’s Mong Kwan Yi in the first round of the Bingo Bonanza Open badminton championships at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The tournament is joined by some of the world’s top players from powerhouse nations like Indonesia, Malaysia and China, which is why even her coaches are not keeping expectations high.
“Of course we want to win, but they (coaches) would always tell us to show others that we can fight until the end,” said Cruz, who lost her first round match along with fellow national team players Gelita Castillo and Janelle De Vera.
The Philippines suffered heavy casualty at the start of the tournament Wednesday, with only four out of 26 local shuttlers advancing to the next round.
Like Cruz, most of the national team players fielded in the tournament are youngsters.
“We were never pressured to win. It was a learning experience for all of us,” she said.
Cruz started playing badminton in her grade school years and saw action at the Palarong Pambansa during high school.
“I just saw players and I instantly admired their skills and I told myself that I’ll be like them someday,” she said.
In 2007, she became the Yonex Philippine champ earning her recognition and a shot at being part of the national team. She now balances training while on her junior year studying business management at the University of the East.
“I’ve been doing this since grade school so it’s never really hard for me to balance my studies and badminton,” she said.
After suffering her first loss, Cruz said she needs to improve her legwork, which she considers her greatest weakness.
“I used to focus more on my stroke and less on my legwork. Our coaches are helping me work on that,” she said.