by Wade Townsend
Back in January this year it was announced that the Chinese National Women’s Team would have two new faces. One of those faces was Sun Yingsha. Little did anyone know that soon she would shakeup the international circuit.
Six months later in the Chinese National Team’s top tier and it was time to put the lessons in to practice. The moment had come for the baby faced sixteen year-old to make her senior debut at the LION Japan Open.
Sun kicked things off by navigating her way through the qualification rounds. It wasn’t much of a surprise that she made it safely through. But then the upsets started.
The teenager from China knocked out Doo Hoi Kem and then followed that win up by sending the no.1 seed Feng Tianwei packing. A semi-final victory over Wang Manyu setup a gold medal match against the no.2 seed Chen Meng.
Sun’s dream run looked like it was coming to an end when the experienced Chen led three games to one. But the debutant exuded class and composer beyond her years to make a sensational comeback and take the Platinum Tour title.
Talk amongst China’s coaches at the Japan Open was that the new team member had all the attributes of Ma Long; that it was just like watching his double out on the court. With a title under her belt Sun was eager to prove she wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
Next up was the China Open and the rising star just couldn’t stop winning.
Sun deftly navigated her way to the quarterfinal and turned her senior winning streak in to a nine match run. It quickly become ten as she handled Feng Tianwei with ease winning in straight games. But then came the biggest shock.
The teenager stepped on the court to face Liu Shiwen in the semi-final match in Chengdu and from beginning to end looked like the more experienced player. Sun thrashed the world no.2 in straight games, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10.
Sun Yingsha’s winning streak was now eleven matches in a row.
In the final of the Women’s Singles event Sun’s opponent was the world no.1 and top seed Ding Ning, the top seed. It was to be one match too many. It was time for the sun to set and the fairy tale to end. Precedence prevailed and Ding won in five games.
But Sun Yingsha had another milestone waiting on the horizon of July. When the new World Rankings were released, Sun found herself at the no.10 spot on the list. Within a month the unknown teenager from China had launched herself in to the stratosphere.
The World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda, Italy was going to be the cherry on top of the sundae.
Sun Yingsha, the top seed, defeated two time champion Wang Manyu 14-12 in the deciding game to take the world tile.
Did anyone know who Sun was prior to 2017? The teen had played a handful of international junior events, but wasn’t anyone’s radar, let alone being considered a contender for titles in the world’s biggest events.
In 2017 table tennis became the territory of the teenager. When Japan gave the world Harimoto, China gave us Sun Yingsha. What surprises will 2018 have in store for table tennis fans?
Check out the full year in review below and relive some of the best moments from table tennis in 2017.