Highly rated Waller champions badminton
A rising senior at Brandeis, Nicholas Waller competed in two singles matches last month for the US National Badminton Team at the Sudirman Cup mixed-team tournament in Brisbane, Australia.
He is ranked eighth nationally in singles and fifth in doubles by US Badminton.
Waller, 21, a biology major from Natick, was named to the national team in January after a qualifying tournament at the Boston Badminton Club in Westborough.
The current Massachusetts, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast singles champion, the 6-foot, 160-pound Waller first played the sport at the Maugus Club in Wellesley at age 11.
A cross country and track athlete at Natick High, Waller is a member of the Boston Badminton and Maugus clubs.
In early April, Waller put together a team of Brandeis and Tufts University students, taught them the sport for two weeks, and funded their trip to the Northeastern Collegiate Division 2 regional championships, where they took first place.
Q. Who introduced you to badminton?
A. My grandfather, Matthew, who played recreationally in India and has won senior national championships in the United States. He’s 85 and still playing.
Q. What was your reaction to qualifying for the national team for the first time?
A. I had tried out multiple times before and I came very close in 2016, so I had to get a little bit faster and a little bit more consistent, but most importantly I had to get mentally tougher. I had always struggled with nervousness on the court, but at qualifying I never looked at the results and focused on one point at a time.
Q. What did you take away from your matches at the Sudirman Cup?
A. The game was much faster than I could have imagined. It was eye-opening. But I also know I’m capable of playing at that level.
Q. What are your plans for this summer?
A. I’ll be taking classes at Brandeis because I’ll be playing and traveling more for badminton tournaments over the next year. I also coach year-round at the Maugus Club. Because I’m recovering from a hip injury it will cut down on my playing time until the fall.
Q. What fascinated you about badminton, and what are the demands of the sport?
A. I love that it’s a game for all ages and that there are so many aspects to it — fitness, strategy, technique, and mental preparation. It’s very physically demanding, because a match can take up to an hour and a half.
Q. Will you assemble another student club team this fall?
A. Yes, but this time it will be an All-Brandeis team and we’ll compete in the Division 1 regionals. I’m hoping to get funding for the team as we will expand our schedule and also play teams from the Ivy League.
Q. What is the history of badminton at Brandeis?
A. They had a club team at one time, but their equipment was stolen and the club disbanded. My hope is that because of our recent success, it will be reinstated.
Q. What are your future plans?
A. I’m hoping to go to med school and become an emergency room doctor. But before that, I plan to move overseas and work on my badminton game at a higher level. I want to see where I can get to in the sport, and if it’s realistic, I’ll try out for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Q. What are your favorite interests away from classes and competing in badminton?
A. I love to hike and be outdoors, especially in the White Mountains, and have played classical clarinet since I was in third grade. I was in the symphonic band in high school that placed first in the Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductors Association Festival.
Q. What was the first badminton tournament you won and how did that resonate with you?
A. It was at a junior tournament in New York. I was 16 and hadn’t been too successful to that point. It was a breakthrough win, because it showed I could win tournaments and not just games.