World Table Tennis Championships
Adham Sharara, ITTF President, in his speech at the Opening Ceremony of the H.I.S. World Championships in Yokohama on Tuesday 28th April 2009, highlighted the fact that since the global event was last held in Japan, in Osaka in 2001, several very talented young players from the host country have emerged.
One of those is 14 year old Koki Niwa, who stole the show on the opening day of play, Tuesday 28th April 2009, but there are others from visiting countries who impressed and are even younger than the Japanese star.
In fact there are three entrants who are younger than Niwa, the youngest being Lily Zhang from San Francisco in the United States of America.
She is only 12 years old.
In the qualification stage of the Women’s Singles event she was not required to raise her racket in anger, her opponent Elonna Tormis of the Philippines failing to make an appearance; whilst in the Mixed Doubles competition, she made two visits to the table.
Partnering Timothy Wang, the duo beat Congo Democratic’s Bomboko Babungu and Amma Litobaka before losing by the very narrowest of five game margins to Latvia’s Matiss Burgis and Baiba Bogdasarova.
“It’s really cool to be here amongst so many great players”, said Lily Zhang. “It’s a really good opportunity and I think in the doubles matches I played my best.”
Certainly, coach on duty, Jasna Reed, was more than pleased.
All Round Player
“She did well in the doubles, she’s an all round player, very safe from both sides”, said the former Yugoslav and American international who has a wealth of experience. “She can play strongly when necessary”, continued Jasna Reed. “Also, she’s very happy; yesterday, she met her idol, Zhang Yining.”
Definitely, a good player to have as an idol, Zhang Yining is not only a fine table tennis player, one of the best the sport has ever seen; she is also very humble, very polite and courteous, a lady who sets a splendid example.
Consistent and Fine Temperament
“She’s consistent”, said Lily Zhang. “She has a wonderful temperament, that’s why I admire her so much.”
Well, on the opening day Lily Zhang showed the qualities of Zhang Yining and belied her youth.
The youngest player in the tournament, the next on the age range ladder is her compatriot, Ariel Hsing, she is 13 years old whilst for the boys;, the youngest is New Zealand’s Kevin Wu.
He is 14 years old, one month younger than Koki Niwa.