Interview with Juliane Schenk: “European players need to catch up with Asia”

Author : Dev Sukumar

Yonex Open Japan 2011 - Semi Finals

Juliane Schenk is in an interesting phase of her life right now. The world No.5 admits she’s freer than she’s ever been. Uncharacteristically for a top badminton player, she’s started her own company, and that seems to have invigorated her. She skipped the international circuit for over three months, choosing to train with Malaysian women’s singles players and participating in leagues in India and China. The German, who turned out for Pune Pistons in the IBL, talks of the recent events in her life:

You were out of the Superseries circuit since June. Isn’t there the danger of losing your hunger to win?

It’s different. Once you decide to take part in anything which is offered to you, you decide on your own. I’m organising on my own, I do management consulting. That makes things totally different, right? I’m living with friends at the seaside. I’ve a house here (Denmark), it’s simply totally different from normal life as a player. But it’s cool, because whatever happens, I stay here the whole week and I simply enjoy life. It’s the best that can happen to me right now.

I’m just getting used to conditions again, I get the feeling of a tournament again, and playing Han Li from China in the first round — it could be the quarters or semis, but you have to take it as it is. I’m just happy to be here again.
It feels definitely good for me. It’s a kind of freedom I’ve never experienced ever in my entire career. So whatever I do, I just need to meet my own expectations.

How was your experience of the China league?

It was a great experience. I played there two weeks ago. It was lots of fun. I played three matches (Swiss Open in March), and rested for a month, and playing in Indonesia and India, I can compare them (leagues) which is nice. I get the feeling China is a badminton country; the spectators support us. It feels like everyone dreams as a child of becoming a top player to then get the attention and the joy of people.

Your thoughts on the Indian league?

I have my own opinion of the club and everyone who’s there who took care of me. But in general we need to see, because the Indian league was just three weeks, and this one (China league) lasts longer, and the format is different. We play 11 points so this (Superseries) feels longer. I skipped Japan and China (Superseries), I played India Open and those league matches, so it feels different now, to play 21 points.

Have you received your dues from your club?

I don’t want to comment on it. I’m still waiting. I hope this will happen soon. For all the people there taking care of the league, it was a big success, in my opinion. The spectators enjoyed it, and this shouldn’t be a discussion if there’s something left.

I saw you cheering for your Pune teammate Sourabh Verma during the IBL. Wasn’t that one of the strange things of the IBL, that you’d cheer for someone from another country, something you’d never do at a regular tournament?

It’s true. One really great thing is you meet so many different players from many different countries, and within two-three weeks you have bonding with the group and so many different characters and personalities, but all of great value, so that’s a big experience of the league.

What is your opinion of the drought of women’s singles from Europe?

Carolina (Marin) is one of them, we need to build more of those. She’s skilful and has personality… as a youth player it takes time to build them up. All countries, (such as) England, Denmark, they have good knowledge, with former world class players trying their best to make it happen, that more can follow like Carolina. But Asia is doing better at the moment: India, Thailand, Japan, they come with three-four players of this quality.