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Waldorf resident Averia shines in tournament

By TAMMY SHOWALTER

Staff writer

With parents who were competitive tennis players, Waldorf resident Don Averia was destined to hold a racket.

His love for the game of badminton may take him to Singapore this month for the Youth International Badminton Championships.

Don’s mother, Treldy Averia, said that her son enjoyed going to the tennis courts as well, even at the age of 2.

“He held his own racket, too,” Treldy Averia said, “however, a move to Qatar made us switch to another racket sport that is held indoors. It is generally hot and humid in Qatar, so we deemed outdoor tennis was not suitable.”

At age 5, Don Averia was enrolled for professional badminton coaching at the Qatar Badminton Academy when his father was stationed in Doha, Qatar. As he took the lessons very seriously, coaches began to notice his natural abilities and saw a bright future for him.

In his early years competing against older, taller opponents were a struggle for Don, but he was determined to keep his focus. He fell in two local tournaments at age 5, but a year later found himself holding several championship trophies in the Under-10 boys singles and doubles category.

At age 7, he was ready for the regional tournaments in the U-11 singles category and U-13 doubles category. Don was still competing against boys three years older. At the Abu Dhabi Open Badminton Tournament in 2010, he reached the finals in the U-13 doubles and was voted Most Promising Player of the year at that tournament.

After several tournaments in the Middle East, Don, now 9-years-old, said he was ready for the”‘big boys” of the United States.

The Averias know that badminton isn’t as popular on the East Coast as much as it is on the West Coast, but they have dreams of seeing their son play within a closer drive to Charles County. The family drives to Rockville for Don to train on top-notch badminton courts at the East Coast Badminton Centre. The Averia family is still hoping to see more interest emerge within their local community.

“I love badminton and I really hope I could keep playing and winning for the USA in many more tournaments,” Don said. “That’s my dream.”

Treldy said that her son loves the sport because of the quick moves and different strokes.

“He would love to play it with more American kids since they are tall and have the stamina and power,” she said.

A decision to enroll their son into the Junior International Trials that were conducted by USA Badminton last April in Westborough, Mass., turned into a life-changing chance to play at the Pan American Junior Badminton Championships, which were held in Canada last July.

Don Averia finished undefeated at 7-0 in the U-11 singles category. He and his partner also finished third in doubles.

“Before the tournament, he was a virtual unknown to everyone in USA Badminton,” Treldy said, “but after his first two matches, which were lopsided victories in his favor, he was dubbed the 'Jeremy Lin of USA Badminton.’ Don went on to beat everyone in his category.”

With the Pan Am Championships being his first Badminton World Federation tournament, Don trained extra hard.

“He remained steady in all of his matches and eventually reached the finals against the number one seed.” Treldy said.

That number one seed was Gustavio Salazar from Peru. Salazar beat two Americans to reach the finals and Don’s first match was very challenging.

Salazar, six inches taller than Don, made Don even more determined. Averia won the first set 21-7, but the second set was where Salazar used his height advantage and came out on top 18-14.

“Don took it one point at a time,” Treldy said, “doing exactly what the team coaches told him to do.”

Tied at 20 in the third set, the tension was rising, but Don maneuvered around the court and took the match 22-20 over Salazar.

The family is now juggling a very busy schedule at the moment, but Don has some tournaments lined up for the rest of the year.

He may have an opportunity to play in the Li-Ning Youth International Badminton Championships in Singapore and then turn around in December and play in the United States Badminton Development Federation’s Winter Junior International in Orange, Calif. For more information, go to www.usbdf.org.

tshowalter@somdnews.com