WSVN — There's an unexpected phenomenon going on inside Don Shula's Athletic Club in Miami Lakes. Several nights a week, players come in big numbers to lace up their shoes warm up their muscles for a racket sport that's exploding in South Florida.
No it's not tennis, it's badminton.
Weiyi Chen: "This is not something you play in the backyard with grandma. This is a real sport."
A real sport that draws anywhere from 50 to 100 people inside this gym every week. Some come ready to compete.
Weiyi Chen: "We'll play you. We'll crush you."
Others for a good workout.
Daniel Chavez: "You do move around here a lot. It keeps you in shape cardiovascular-wise."
Dave Zarco: "You will cover probably two miles in a match."
Four courts are open at once with players switching in and out throughout the night. They knock the 'shuttlecock' probably known to you as the 'birdie' back and forth at warp speed.
Dave Zarco: "It can be clocked at over 200 mph and it is very fast."
The goal, whoever gets to 21 first wins from feather-light taps to overhead smashes. These players come with winning strategies.
Dave Zarco: "As awful as it sounds, you want to scare them a little bit. You want to get that first attack and scare them off a little bit."
Daniel Chavez: "My strategy? Try to get the birdie over the net and win."
Some of the best badminton players in the country are here in South Florida.
Daniel Chavez: "You have people from Peru, Cuba, Taiwan, Japan you name it."
Erin Gorsline: "At my school I'm the most valuable player of my girls badminton team. I was really cocky. I thought I was going to be pretty good, there are so many good players out here."
But it doesn't matter if you've ever played or not anyone is welcome to sign up and play.
Dave Zarco: "Anyone who is new, we know, we'll bring them in and we'll get them to play."
So grab a racket and rally.
Belkys Nerey: "All you have to do is show up at Shula's, sign up and pay a guest fee. If you don't have a racket they promise someone will loan you one."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.sbabadminton.org