The Perfect Match

Vinay Guntu was looking for friendly competition when he started MU's badminton club. He found more than he bargained for.

Story by Jocelyn Racelis

Standing alone in the MizzouRec, racket in hand, Vinay Guntu scanned the courts for other students to challenge in his favorite sport: badminton. He seldom found anyone.

He did some research and discovered that Mizzou had yet to organize a badminton team or club.

As an international student from Hyderabad, India, Guntu was surprised that competitive badminton wasn’t popular in the U.S., as it is in India. He wasn’t going to let that stop him from playing, though.

Vinay Guntu holds his badminton racket and smiles at the camera.
Vinay Guntu founded the Badminton Club as a way to find other players and bring awareness to the sport on campus. Photo by Jacob Moscovitch

Guntu found other individuals who were also looking for a group to play badminton with. They traveled to an open tournament to test their badminton skills. In talking with the other teams at that tournament, they learned the benefits of becoming a university-affiliated organization.

“It was a no-brainer to us that we had to start a club,” Guntu says.

As a club, they would provide an easy place for students who were interested in badminton to find each other. They could also educate people about the sport and raise interest in it.

In 2013, the MU Badminton Club became an official club sport through MizzouRec and eventually transitioned to becoming a recognized student organization. Guntu is one of the four founders. He stays involved by coaching and playing. Recently, the club reached 30 members, which is the most members the club has ever had.

The relationships club members have built go beyond badminton.

“For me personally, I’m kind of an introvert,” Guntu says. “Through badminton, it makes it easier for me to communicate with people.”

It also made it easier for him to get through the stress of life in graduate school. Badminton helped Guntu mentally, physically and socially.

On top of finding his friend group through the Badminton Club, Guntu also met his wife, Lu Tian. Without the club, Guntu believes he and his wife would have never met.

Guntu hits a backhand drive during a badminton match at MizzouRec. Photo by Jacob Moscovitch

In Guntu’s time at Mizzou, his career interests have shifted. His professors encouraged him to try teaching, which was out of his comfort zone. Consequently, Guntu is pursuing a career in academia.

“I was told I can do it,” Guntu says. “I would’ve never thought of myself placed in front of a room of people talking.”

Guntu expects to graduate in December with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the College of Engineering. He is excited for his future, as well as the Badminton Club’s future. He’s confident the club is in good hands.

Throughout his years at MU, the club helped Guntu relieve stress, socialize, stay in shape and grow a deeper connection to Mizzou. He wants to make sure the club can provide those things to future students as well.

“It has helped me in many aspects of life,” Guntu says. “I’m very grateful for that.”

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