Although it is table tennis that still captures much of the public eye, other racquet sports in China are booming. Though knocking a ball around the court is originally a Western phenomenon, formulated in the nineteenth century and onward, China is now catching on. They've been regularly winning badminton golds since the 1970s, have had high-ranked tennis players since the 1990s, and have a small, but growing interest in squash.
Badminton is the local favourite of the three, and is taken very seriously in Guangzhou, which hosts several tournaments, including the Sudirman Cup. Badminton, a racquet sport which was developed in England, may in fact have its roots in Asia, deriving from the game of jianzi, which also uses a shuttlecock, though is instead played with the feet. Though badminton is a casual game in the park for a lot of people, China is also tops competitively, to the point of being unbeatable the past several years. In the last Sudirman Cup, which they won in 2009, they didn't lose a single match. Chinese uber-dominance in the sport even has some officials, both Chinese and international, claiming that competitions are now so predictable as to be boring. Either way, with Chinese heroes Lin Dan and Zhang Ning cleaning up at the last Olympics, it's unlikely to change any time soon.
Where to play?
Guangzhou Elite Badminton Activity Centre 精英羽毛球活动中心View In Map
Built in 2002, this is the largest badminton center in Haizhu district, with fourteen indoor courts, professional lighting and anti-slip teak flooring. They also have a badminton supply shop and a large parking lot. Most regular players here are leisure players, and the courts are sometimes rented out on the weekends by companies for fun, exercise and friendly competitions. Customers stay an average of two hours.
Add: 38 Quantang Lu, Gongyedadaozhong, Haizhu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8432 4757
Getting There: Buses – 31, 29, 230. Get off at Zhichangyouju (paper factory post office) bus stop and walk about 10 minutes.
Price: Mon-Fri, 08:00-11:00, 10 RMB/hr; Mon-Fri, 11:00-17:00, 20 RMB/hr; Mon-Fri, 17:00-24:00, 35 RMB/hr; Weekends & Festivals, 08:00-24:00, 35 RMB/hr
Guangzhou Tianhe Sports Centre 广州天河体育中心View In Map
Add: Inside Tianhe Sports Center, Tiyu Xilu, Tianhe District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 3879 6249/3879 8531
Getting There: Metro – Both Tianhe Sports Center station (Tiyuzhongxin) and Linhexi are just outside the gates.
Price: Mon-Sun, 09:00-22:00, 35 RMB/hr
Guangzhou Xueyou Badminton Courts 广州学友羽毛球馆View In Map
Add: 33 Jianye Lu, Tianhe District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8554 6451
Getting There: Buses 245, 135, 513, 326, 505, 547, 568, 135. Get off at Keyun Lu bus stop and walk about 15 minutes.
Price: Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00 20 RMB/hr; Mon-Fri, 17:00-23:00, 35 RMB/hr; Weekends & Festivals, 09:00-23:00, 35 RMB/hr
The growing popularity of tennis in China is a more recent phenomenon, helped out by the China Open's presence since 1993 and a variety of other tournaments. Greater wealth has spurred its popularity too, as has the competitive success of some of China's women players, such as Li Na and Zheng Jie, both of whom have made it into the top twenty in the international rankings. Guangzhou has courts in nearly every district, including some top training facilities, and hosts the Guangzhou International Women's Open every autumn. One of the most popular locales to practice, as with many sports, is Tianhe Sports Center, but Fangcun, Shamian and Ersha Island are all good places to play as well. Numerous universities and hotels have courts, and many provide trainers.
Where to play?
Shamian Tennis Courts 沙面网球场 View In Map
Dating back to 1953, these are some of the most popular tennis courts with foreigners, as well as with locals. Their location near the river, in the peaceful, pretty Shamian neighborhood doesn't hurt a bit, nor does their overall quality, which is excellent. They feature seven outdoor and two indoor courts, and will be used for some of the training for 2010's Asian Games. In the past, Shamian courts have been the site of several amateur competitions, including the Amateur Tennis Masters cup in 2006 and the Shanghai Final Amateur Tennis Masters Cup in 2007. Conveniently, they have a bar and restaurant in case you're feeling worn out.
Guangzhou Shamian Tennis Courts
Add: 5 Shamian Nanjie, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8188 9026
Getting There: Metro – Huangsha metro station D exit, and walk about twenty minutes; Buses – 64, 281, 556, 181, 297, 105, 9, 556, 552, 25, 538, 38, 57, 75, 81, 123, 208, 209, 217, 219, 236. Get off at Liuersan Lu bus stop.
Price: Mon-Fri, daytime, 30 RMB/hr (outdoor), 40 RMB/hr (indoor); Weekends & Festivals, 50 RMB/hr; Mon-Sun, evening, 70 RMB/hr
Guangzhou Fangcun Tennis Club 广州芳村网球俱乐部View In Map
Add: 277—279 Longxidadaozhong, Fangcun District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8160 0427, 8160 0228
Getting There: Take the metro to Kengkou Station B exit, then get bus 307 or 838 and get off at Fangcun Yundongchang bus stop.
Price: Mon-Fri, 08:00-18:00, 30 RMB/hr; 18:00-23:00, 60 RMB/hr; Weekends, 08:00 – 18:00, 45 RMB/hr; 18:00-23:00, 70 RMB/hr
Tianhe Sports Centre 天河体育中心
Address details as above. The tennis area is next to the East gate (metro exit C).
Tel: 020 3879 6837, 3879 7409
Price: Outdoor: Mon-Fri, 08:00-18:00, 30 RMB/hr; Mon-Sun, 18:00 – 23:00; 70 RMB/hr; Weekends, 08:00-18:00, 60 RMB/hr
Indoor (under construction): Mon-Fri, 08:00-18:00, 100 RMB/hr; 18:00-23:00, 150 RMB/hr; Weekends, 08:00-17:00, 100 RMB/hr; 17:00-23:00, 150 RMB/hr
Squash is just getting on the map in China. With the exception of Hong Kong players, such as Chow Lap Ming, China is not competitive at all. Some major events have been hosted in Shanghai and Beijing, but they have mostly showcased international talent. The latest 2009 squash tournament in Hong Kong was won by an Egyptian, who defeated a Frenchman. Nevertheless, squash has carved out a small niche in Guangzhou. With hopes of building talent and future involvement, the Guangdong Provincial Sports Assembly held their first squash matches here in 2007 and the China Squash Open held preliminary matches here in 2008. Guangzhou squash clubs are currently preparing for the 2010 Asian Games. Leisure playing is kept going mostly through a handful of clubs and the facilities offered at sports centers. If you get involved in squash or racquetball in this city, you'll find yourself a part of a small, welcoming community.
Where to play?
Ramada Pearl Hotel squash courts 凯旋华美达大酒店壁球场View In Map
These two standard squash courts are located in the Ramada Pearl Hotel, just alongside the Pearl River across from Ersha Island. Most squash players here are either hotel residents or locals, and it is best to call in advance to reserve the courts. One convenient thing about them, besides the lovely location, is the extra features you have around for when you are finished, such as sauna and swimming pool. No major competitions are held here.
Add: 9 Mingyueyi Lu, DaDaozhong (beside the Guangzhou Bridge), Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8737 2988
Getting There: Buses 248, 130, 53, 512, 195, 882, 836, 178, 197, 83, 562, 836, 522, 37, 45, 511, 89, 272, 194, 266, 204, 263, 252. Get off at Wuyangxincun and walk about ten minutes
Price: Mon-Fri, 06:20-23:00, 50 RMB/hr; Weekends & Festivals, 06:30-23:00, 60 RMB/hr
Guangzhou LiChi Sports Club 广州力驰体育俱乐部View In Map
Add: Shangshi Road (beside exit of Zhujiang Tunnel), Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8156 0002, 8156 0823
Getting There: Metro – Fangcun metro Station, C exit; Buses 1, 15, 19, 57, 74, 75, 81, 181, 206, 217, 219, 275, 281, 552, 812. Get off at Fangcun Suidaokou bus stop and walk about five minutes to Shangshi Road.
Price: Mon-Fri, 09:00-16:00, 20 RMB/hr; 16:00-24:00, 38 RMB/HR; Weekends & Festivals, 08:00-24:00, 38 RMB/HR
Dongfeng Club 东风俱乐部View In Map
Add: 787 Dongfeng Donglu (on one side of Dongfeng Square), Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8734 1328
Getting There: Metro – Yangji, D Exit and walk about ten minutes; Buses 62, 293, 542, 2, 204, 518, 189, 517, 261, 27 ,54, 56, 283, 284, 185, 224. Get off at Dongjun Guangchang bus stop and walk about ten minutes.
Price: Mon-Fri, 07:30-18:00, 50 RMB/hr; Mon-Fri 18:00-23:00, 60 RMB/hr; Weekends & Festivals, 07:30 – 23:00, 60 RMB/hr
Where to take Squash lessons?
Contact the Guangzhou Sqaush club for lessons or to join their playing ladder: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call Mr Chen on 138 0292 6106.
Price: A private course (one on one) is 250 RMB/hr (doesn't include the court rental fee)
Where to buy racquet sports equipment?
Ersha Island sports Equipment Street 二沙岛的体育用品一条街View In Map
Address: Haiyin Ersha Island sports equipment street, Datong Road, Yuexiu District
Getting There: Buses 248, 131, 89, 57,194. Get off at Ershaxi bus stop.
Tianhe Hui sports town 天河汇运动城View In Map
Add: At the back of Time Square, 160 Tianhe Zhijie (Tianhe Straight Street), Tianhe District, Guangzhou
Getting There: Buses 133, 271, 504, 122, 136, 183,191, 209 or 6. Get off at Shidai Guangchang bus stop.
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