Drop shot!

More ex­pats in China are par­tic­i­pat­ing in ping-pong

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE -

Be­sides pro­fes­sional tour­na­ments, Shanghai Hur­ri­cane also provides a home-base for av­er­age or be­gin­ner-level English-speak­ing table ten­nis play­ers. It cur­rently has 76 of­fi­cial mem­bers but con­tin­ues to grow as word gets around.

The Global Times re­cently caught up with some for­eign table ten­nis lovers to ask what draws them to a sport that has tra­di­tion­ally been dom­i­nated by the Chi­nese, their im­pres­sions of the sport and who their fa­vorite play­ers are.

Manu, Spain

I am a fan of ten­nis back in Spain. I picked up table ten­nis while study­ing Chi­nese lan­guage in Bei­jing two years ago. In Bei­jing, peo­ple al­ways play table ten­nis and in­vited me to play with them. It is quite chal­leng­ing to play against Chi­nese. I lose al­most all the time. In Spain, few peo­ple play table ten­nis; there may be clubs in larger cities but no clubs in smaller cities. So I think it is quite un­der­stand­able that Chi­nese al­ways win. There is a large pop­u­la­tion play­ing the game. I think Chi­nese are the best of the best.

Eric, Ger­many

I have been play­ing table ten­nis for over 10 years now. I started play­ing table ten­nis after I was in­flu­enced by some friends. I had a lot of fun play­ing and I kept play­ing in my free time. In Ger­many, table ten­nis is re­ally devel­oped. We have some big play­ers like Timo Boll. It feels re­ally cool to play table ten­nis in China, be­cause there are a va­ri­ety of play­ers with dif­fer­ent styles. You can play against some­one who is not bet­ter than you but still you have no chance against, sim­ply be­cause he has such unique style. My fa­vorite Chi­nese player is Xu Xin. I like his style. he is very creative. My fa­vorite for­eign player is Boll. He has been the best player in Ger­many for 10 years. I think it is de­served that China is dom­i­nat­ing this game. The Chi­nese work re­ally hard. But Ja­panese play­ers are also do­ing great. I think the next few years will be more ex­cit­ing.

James, the UK

I have been play­ing table ten­nis for over 20 years. I won a small table ten­nis com­pe­ti­tion in Eng­land when I was 11 and have been play­ing ever since. I now live in Qing­dao of East China’s Shan­dong Prov­ince, but travel all around China for work. Be­fore I came to China, I al­ways used to watch videos of three-time World Cham­pion Wang Liqin. In 2006 I was very lucky to have the chance to play a short game with Wang Liqin at an event in Shanghai. I asked him how long he trains for each day and was im­pressed by his an­swer: that he trains al­most eight hours per day. My fa­vorite table ten­nis player is Ma Lin; I love his style and in par­tic­u­lar his pas­sion for the game. I think China’s dom­i­na­tion is good in a sense, but I also hope they will have more com­pe­ti­tion in the fu­ture, like they used to do with leg­endary Swedish play­ers Jor­gen Pers­son and in par­tic­u­lar Jan-Ove Wald­ner (“Lao Wa” in Chi­nese). After play­ing table ten­nis with Wang Liqin and also com­ing in sec­ond for a com­pe­ti­tion spon­sored by a Chi­nese com­pany sev­eral years ago, it’s now hard for me to leave.

Huseyin, Turkey

I started play­ing table ten­nis in grade five and have been play­ing on my school team since then. I thought I played quite well un­til I came to China. Table ten­nis is a na­tional game in China, which provides a good en­vi­ron­ment to train and prac­tice. It may sound cliché, but my fa­vorite table ten­nis player is Ma Long. I know many other peo­ple like him as well. I think it is good for China to dom­i­nate in this game. For a country that puts so much em­pha­sis on table ten­nis, it is normal for it to sweep all the medals.

Dy­lan, the US

I was born in up­state New York, and then moved to Guangzhou of South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince for ele­men­tary school. Next, I moved to Shanghai for my mid­dle and high school years. I started play­ing table ten­nis in mid­dle school, and started tak­ing it more se­ri­ously in high school. I played on the NYU Table Ten­nis Team and co-cap­tained and managed the team. A lot of for­eign­ers ex­pect Chi­nese play­ers to just nat­u­rally be good. I think this is a kind of stereo­type. When­ever I go to a ten­nis club, usually I see all Chi­nese peo­ple. When a for­eigner comes in they are in­tim­i­dated at first. They as­sume all Chi­nese are pros. Even in New York, which has a large Asian pop­u­la­tion, the stereo­type ex­ists. When­ever we play and after we fin­ish they ask, “Oh did you train in one of those fa­mous sports schools in China?” They think all Chi­nese train in sports school and that no­body here has a good ed­u­ca­tion be­cause we fo­cus on table ten­nis all the time. But ob­vi­ously that’s not true.

As for China’s dom­i­na­tion in this sport, I think it’s good and bad. It’s good in a sense that, be­cause China is the best they re­ally have a goal to work for. When­ever a for­eign player beats a Chi­nese player it is considered a huge deal. Ev­ery­one goes crazy. But at the same time it kind of gets bor­ing. Be­cause at the end of most for­eign tour­na­ments, it’s al­most al­ways two Chi­nese play­ers, even in the Olympics. There used to be three play­ers for each country but now they cut it down to two be­cause China dom­i­nates too much. In a sense that’s kind of un­fair to China. If China has the ta­lent, why shouldn’t they be able to play. Then it kind of becomes un­fair to the rest of the world. So I can see both sides of it.

Photo: FP

A for­eign man plays ping-pong.

Pho­tos: Lu Ting/GT

(Main) Ping-pong en­thu­si­asts play at table ten­nis club Shanghai Hur­ri­cane.

Eric Huseyin Dy­lan

James (left) and Wang Liqin Manu

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