2016 Rochester Open a smash hit at the Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center and the debut of ZOOM.

2016 Rochester Open a smash hit at the Robert  B. Goergen Athletic Center and the debut of ZOOM.

University of Rochester’s Robert B. Goergen Athletic Center, 10/30/16

In Badminton shines in Brazil. And “the Game Sublime” has a following in Rochester, including Rajesh Barnabas and New York State Assemblyman Mark Johns, we reviewed badminton’s past and present in Rochester.

So I was excited when Rajesh alerted me to the October 30th 6th Annual Rochester Open, sponsored by University of Rochester badminton club and held on campus at the Robert  B. Goergen Athletic Center.


(left) Richard Kao and Rahman Ejaz, organizers of the 2016 Rochester Open. Rahman’s favorite player is Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia. 10/31/16

And what better time for the debut of our ZOOM H4n Handy Recorder kindly given by my sister as a birthday gift.  As few weeks earlier, Rajesh rightfully pointed out the magazine’s wholly inadequate audio equipment — as in none.

Hence, it’s very fitting that Rajesh, followed by his father, were ZOOM’s first interviewees.

As explained by Richard Kao and Rahman Ejaz, the UR badminton club formed in 2003. In 2011, the club sponsored the first Rochester Open. Six years later, the tournament is thriving, attracting 112 players from throughout the northeast, including college teams from RIT and SUNY Oswego.  The level of competition was the highest to be found in western NY and southern Ontario, outside of Toronto.  The strongest players were in their early 20s but all ages were welcome.  Previous Rochester Opens

The UR badminton club is quit popular year round. Over the course of a year, Rahman says maybe 100 people attend at least one event, about 75 are periodic participants, and between 30 and 40 are regulars. Most people have relatively little experience — maybe playing in high school PE classes — but they quickly take to this the worlds’ fastest racquet sport. Rahman says a few members of the tennis team join the games from time to time.

Once people see how removed real badminton is from the outdoor picnic version with too high nets and heavy plastic-tipped shuttlecocks, they get hooked on what I call, “the game sublime.”


UR Badminton Club at the 2015 Yonex Northeast Collegiate team championships

Rajesh’s interview spans his time playing as a youth on the 9th floor of the State Street Kodak Building to the current games at the Town of Webster Recreation Center. Rajesh mentions the 2016 Rochester Open was his first competitive tournament since playing in Canada as a 12 year old.  Although at 40 Rajesh is a little old in badminton years, he gave the college boys a run for their money.

Also interviewed was Sam Barnabas, Rajesh’s father. The two were doubles partners in the tournament. Sam has deep roots in the Rochester badminton community and its history.  Also at the Open was Erica Bryant, Rajesh’s wife. She played Mixed Doubles with Sam (though not in victory).

Photographs where noted from Ramakanth Desani.

Rajesh Barnabas, 10/30/16

Sam Barnabas, 10/30/16

Sounds of the game sublime



Photo: David Kramer


Photo: David Kramer



At one point, Rajesh and I volleyed. I hadn’t played competitively since the 1999 University of Rhode Island Intramural Tournament (third place finish and t-shirt).  A few years ago when I was a PE substitute teacher at East High, I played badminton with some girls who didn’t like basketball and also was soundly dismantled by East’s PE teacher Michael Militello.


Rajesh in blue. top photo: Sam Barnabas, lower photo: Ramakanth Desani.

But just one or two serves and volleys brought back the adrenalized memory rush of those hundreds of thousands of badminton strokes over a lifetime. The timing was off, but all my instincts they returned. Volleying was like dancing with a fond long lost friend at a college reunion. A couple of awkward clumsy steps on the toes and then the years melt away and the ballet begins anew. The light joy of knowing it’s still there.


Photos: Ramakanth Desani

In “the Game Sublime”, Rajesh calls badminton “this magical sport” whose poeticness surpasses every other racquet game. And so we felt its spell at the 2016 Rochester Open.

Video clip by Ramakanth Desani

Badminton shines in Brazil. And “the Game Sublime” has a following in Rochester, including Rajesh Barnabas and New York State Assemblyman Mark Johns


As the University of Rochester’s Fauver Stadium moves forward, its rich football tradition lives on

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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