Do you love table tennis or ping pong? Let me introduce you to some of the best and most unique players of this sport.
Who is Sun?
Sun Yingsha is a young Chinese table tennis player from Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, northern China. Born in 2000, Sun is only 21 years old as of October 2022. Beginning in February 2022, Sun has ranked women's world number one according to ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking for women's singles. So, why is she still a rising star instead of the best female table tennis player? The short answer is Sun Yingsha still needs to achieve the grand slam before getting close to the rank of best female table tennis players. She won the World Cup in 2021. However, she still needs to win the gold at the Olympic Games and World Championships women's singles. This article is all about Sun Yingsha, also known as "Sha Sha" by her fans.
Sun Yingsha's Childhood and Table Tennis
Table tennis also known as Ping Pong in China is the national sport for the country. It is not uncommon for kids to learn the sport at a very young age. Sun started playing table tennis at the age of five. She was first sent to learn table tennis by her parents. At first, it was just fun for Sun and she practiced for only a few hours a day. However, her exceptional talent was soon discovered by the coaches. Sun started practicing more and enjoyed table tennis at the same time. At the young age of ten, she was selected as a member of the Hebei provincial team. In China, even at the provincial team level, players are all incredibly talented. In one of her earliest interviews, Sun Yingsha stated that she wanted to play table tennis because of her admiration for other Chinese grand slam champions such as Li Xiaoxia and Zhang Jike. She wanted to go to Beijing and meet her idols.
Climbing To the Top
With hard working and the help of her coaches, Sun Yingsha won the gold medal in the Chinese National Youth Championships in 2015. During that same year she was promoted to the secondary Chinese National Table Tennis women's team. She was only 15 at the time! Sun Yingsha was promoted to the Chinese National Table Tennis women's team in 2017 through a successful match against the bottom half of the Chinese National Table Tennis women's team members. With the rise of Mima Ito of Japan, previous generation of top female Chinese players such as Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling all had trouble beating her. It was time for new talents to emerge in the Chinese National Table Tennis women's team! Sun Yingsha took the opportunity and rose to the top with her explosive forehand attacks.
Against Mima Ito and Rise to Fame
Mima Ito secured many wins against the then top Chinese female Ping Pong players. The country known to produce the best table tennis players was suddenly challenged. They responded with talented younger players such as Sun Yingsha. With her power and skill, Sun Yingsha won many matches against Mima Ito at important matches. Even at times when Sun was behind in a match against Mima Ito, she held her cool and emerged victorious. This meant that the then top players were replaced with younger players in the Chinese National Table Tennis women's team. Sun Yingsha won 8 matches out of 10 against Mima Ito. That is a very impressive record against the best from Japan. Due to Sun's confidence against non-Chinese Ping Pong players, she is one of the most popular Chinese female table tennis players at her home and abroad.
Still Climbing to the Top
Sun Yingsha is a very talented table tennis player. However, she is still not at the very top of the sport. The requirement of legendary female athletes in table tennis is to win the grand slam, that means gold medals at the Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup singles. So far, Sun has only a gold medal at the World Cup singles. Although extremely lethal against non-Chinese players, Sun still needs to overcome her teammates such as Chen Meng and Wang Manyu consistently to climb to the very top. At only 21 years old, Sun still has lots of room to improve her game. Compared to Fan Zhendong and Ma Long of China, Sun still has more to prove to secure the top place in the women's team.
Due to Sun's excellent performance at many international matches, she was selected as one of the two players for the Olympic Games singles for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Before the matches, her grandmother passed away. To keep Sun focused, her family decided to not inform her of her grandmother's passing. As a result, Sun demolished her main opponent, Mima Ito, both during the singles and team matches. Although she didn't win against Chen Meng for women's finals, Sun Yingsha still earned a silver medal. At her age, she still has more time to take the gold at the Olympic Games in the future. With all of her impressive performance, Sun's fans gave her the nickname "Little Devil".
Sun Yingsha is Full of Personality
Aside from being an exceptional athlete, Sun Yingsha is full of personality both on and off camera. In many interviews, she displayed her playful personality and threw witty answers at the reporters. Sun is also loved by coaches and teammates within the Chinese National Table Tennis team. Many people adore her soft and adorable baby face and try to pinch it at any chance they get. It's not hard to see why, Sun's chubby round face is extremely cute.
What's in the Future for Sun?
The short answer is greatness. But the road to the very top is extremely difficult. There are so many talented Ping Pong female players both in China and other countries. Sun has to overcome many obstacles including the formidable Chen Meng and Wang Manyu. Both of the her teammates have very decent win rate against Sun Yingsha. With only two more years for the London 2024 Olympic Games, Sun has her work cut out for her. On the other hand, Sun is at a disadvantage due to her lack of a permanent coach. Let's hope that situation changes soon and Sun can get an exceptional permanent coach to lead her to even greater heights! In a few more years, maybe her nickname "Little Devil" will turn into "Big Devil"!