Ethan Wu has been on the Great Neck South Badminton...

Ethan Wu has been on the Great Neck South Badminton team since he was freshman. Credit: James Escher

It's not unusual for children to grow up playing the same sports as their parents. But not every child has a world-class athlete as a father.

Ethan Wu, a senior playing first singles at Great Neck South, excels at badminton. As did his dad.

Wu’s father, Chibing, won the bronze medal in mixed doubles as a member of the Chinese national team at the 1989 World Badminton championships. He was the  coach of the Spanish national team in the 1992 Olympics before moving to New York in 1996, where he founded the New York City Badminton Club. 

Ethan’s brother, Ryan, also plays badminton and competes at second singles as a freshman for Great Neck South.

“It’s the family business,” Ethan Wu said. “I tried other sports, but badminton just comes easier for me.”

At 6-1, Wu is often at a physical advantage on the court. While some may take two or three lunge steps before a hit, he needs just one. And although most of his opponents are unlikely to have a medal-winning father, Wu admits that genetics aren’t going to win him every match.

“I just do a lot of thinking,” Wu said. “Some players don’t think about what shot to do next. They give in to the adrenaline rush after hitting a good shot and want to smash the birdie hard again.

“I just try to stay calm, use my head and try not to rush.”

As a freshman, Wu won the individual county title at second singles. After Nassau switched its playoff format to crown an overall winner in 2016, Wu has been runner-up two years in a row, losing twice to teammate Ray Ngan.

“Those were the most exciting times,” Wu said. “Every other school is watching us, and no matter who wins or loses, it ends up in our hands.”

And for his senior season, Wu would like to continue the trend.

“I really want to face my brother in the finals,” he said. “It would be like a movie ending.”

An ending his father would certainly enjoy.

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