He was the No. 1 singles in Japan in his first year of high school

Yuta Watanabe has become an elite player at the world stage at the young age of 22. He is currently ranked No. 6 in men’s doubles and No. 3 in mixed doubles.

He said his mission is to be the best in the world. He is a double All England winner in two disciplines. Along with partner Hiroyuki Endo, he is one of the very few pairs who have beaten the Minions pair consistently.

He sat down with “Badminton Unlimited” and shared some of his thoughts. Here are some of the excerpts from the interview.

I started playing when I was seven because both my parents played badminton and baseball, so I wanted to try both. My badminton was better, so I decided to stick to that.

I didn’t play very well in elementary school or junior high, but I became No. 1 in the whole of Japan in my first year of high school. That was a very special feeling; being No. 1 and I wanted to keep being the best, so I turned professional.

But because my body is so small, it’s quite difficult to keep up in singles.

I can’t cover the whole court by myself, which is why I needed a partner to work with and think about the tactics together.

Arisa Higashino

My mixed doubles partner, Arisa Higashino, and I went to the same high school but she’s a year older than me. We are really good friends and I can talk to her about anything… I don’t have anything I dislike about her. She’s perfect.

Hiroyuki Endo

Hiroyuki Endo and I hang out quite a lot. I often go out with him and our families are really close. We even went to the zoo together. He doesn’t make me feel that I’m a lot younger than him.

I’m not very good at waking up in the morning, but Endo is. Because we are partners, we share a room together and when he wakes up, within 10 seconds he wants to go for breakfast…I would be ready for breakfast in 30 seconds. (laughs)

Beating the World No. 1s

Winning against the world No. 1 Indonesian pair was really valuable and that made us more confident.

Park Joo Bong

I often play with Coach Park and that makes me realize he is a player who hardly makes mistakes. It made me wonder why he didn’t make any mistakes and I realized he’s got an amazing technique and it’s very important to learn to play by watching.

Coach Park tells me to play simpler shots. I like to take risks, but he tells me to be patient. “Don’t do that” and just play simply.