Rookie Yuge (Ace) Zeng leads Huskies badminton program by claiming victory at every OCAA tournament
He’s won every singles tournament he’s entered this season.
No, that’s not a typo. Yuge (Ace) Zeng has come out on top in each and every one of the six Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) tournaments he’s suited up for. In fact, he has not lost a single match in Ontario all season.
Did we mention he’s going to be around for a while—he’s a rookie?
The first-year culinary management student at George Brown College (GBC) was born and raised in Hunan, China. Zeng eventually decided to continue his education in Canada, coming to Toronto in March of 2015.
His journey to North America was not supposed to include badminton. Zeng and his parents thought focusing on his studies was the priority.
“I was just going to study because I played too much badminton in China. My parents and I just wanted me to study,” said Zeng.
However, the badminton court was again part of his routine.
Prior to joining the Huskies, Zeng plied his trade with the KC Badminton Club in Toronto. It wasn’t long before George Brown presented itself as an option. It was a friend of Zeng’s that asked him to consider joining the badminton team at the college.
“I heard George Brown is a pretty perfect college and that they have a very good badminton team,” said Zeng. “I have a lot of friends from George Brown badminton, so, they encouraged me to come here, so here I am.”
Huskies head coach Will Schram actually knew of his 18-year-old star before he joined his team, having seen him in the junior ranks. Upon meeting Zeng, Schram was interested to see what discipline the newcomer wanted to compete in.
“I knew what his talent was. I’d heard of him, and saw him as a junior,” said Schram. “I knew what kind of level he was. I knew he was the strongest player on our team. He wanted to play singles and I said ‘yes, you’re in’.”
Strong results came immediately for Zeng and the victories have piled up. Aside from tournaments that he didn’t play in, Zeng took first place in men’s singles four times before his wins at the regional and provincial levels.
In the lead up to the playoffs, Zeng also collected a first place finish in men’s doubles with Yang Jin, as well as a gold in mixed doubles with Yan Zhou.
It might be surprising for a rookie to come in and dominate in this fashion. But his coach had a hunch.
“To be honest, I couldn’t say that for most of the athletes but Ace is just, he’s at a certain level that’s just ridiculous,” said Schram.
In terms of pre-season expectations, Schram claimed he didn’t have to say much to his new recruit.
“He told me right off the bat, ‘I want to win’, so he answered it for me,” said Schram. “I didn’t have to say anything.”
For Zeng, it’s all turned out to be a great situation.