Ju­nior ten­nis quar­tet earn ticket to Wim­ble­don

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai


Four of China’s most promis­ing young ten­nis play­ers will be set­ting foot onto the hal­lowed grounds of Wim­ble­don this Au­gust af­ter they emerged tops in the re­cent Road to Wim­ble­don China tour­na­ment, held as part of events that marked the in­tro­duc­tion of the Road to Wim­ble­don pro­gram in the coun­try.

Road to Wim­ble­don is a grass­roots pro­gram that is run by the All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Club (AELTC). It was founded in the United King­dom in 2002 to help de­velop ten­nis play­ers aged 14 and un­der. It later ex­panded to In­dia in 2014 be­fore mak­ing its way to China this year.

Luo Shuai, Zheng Zhan, Yao Xinx­ing and Xiao Zhenghua, the top boys and girls of the com­pe­ti­tion, were part of a group of 16 young Chi­nese play­ers who were se­lected to at­tend an 11-day camp at the Chi­nese ten­nis le­gend

Ten­nis Academy of China in Nan­jing, Jiangsu Prov­ince from May 14 to 24.

Paul Hutchins, the tour­na­ment di­rec­tor for Road to Wim­ble­don, spent a few days with these Chi­nese play­ers and was im­pressed with their be­hav­ior, say­ing no tantrums were thrown and that they played their game with re­spect and a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.

He also dis­cov­ered that the girls adopted a more of­fen­sive ap­proach as com­pared to their male coun­ter­parts. He added that ju­nior play­ers from Asia, es­pe­cially the boys, usu­ally have very de­fen­sive play styles.

“There is a term in ten­nis called ‘hack­ing’ and it de­scribes a de­fen­sive style of play. I am pleased that Chi­nese girls are not ‘hack­ers’. Rather, they like to go on the of­fense and this is a good thing. The way the game is played at the top lev­els these days is very of­fen­sive,” said Hutchins.

Chi­nese ten­nis le­gend Li Na, who re­tired in 2014, was also at the camp to lead a coach­ing clinic and a coach ed­u­ca­tion work­shop. There was also a best-in-class ju­nior ten­nis pro­gram led by Wim­ble­don head coach Dan Blox­ham and for­mer UK ten­nis great Jeremy Bates.

“The Road to Wim­ble­don pro­gram is a big step for ten­nis and ju­nior ten­nis in China,” said Li, who is now work­ing on es­tab­lish­ing her own ten­nis school.

The Road to Wim­ble­don pro­gram is a big step for ten­nis and ju­nior ten­nis in China.”


China's ten­nis icon Li Na poses with young play­ers at a Road to Wim­ble­don event in Nan­jing

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