by Simon Daish
Who is Liu Weishan?
Another emerging young star from the Chinese national set up, 19-year-old Liu Weishan is a right-handed attacking minded player who’s first thought is always to get on the front foot and out-hit the opponent.
Making her first big international appearance at the 2016 World Junior Championships where she achieved a top 16 finish, Liu’s standout moment at Under 18 level saw her seal gold at the 2018 Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open.
Her exposure to the senior game has been somewhat limited, taking to the ITTF World Tour stage only twice prior to 2019. However, she had since doubled her tally with appearances at the 2019 Korea Open and 2019 Australian Open, the latter of which saw her put in a brave display against Ding Ning, losing out to the three-time World champion in a full distance battle.
Causing a stir in Olomouc
Travelling to the 2019 ITTF World Tour Czech Open with a world ranking of 255, Liu was unseeded for the women’s singles event and was thus required to negotiate two days of qualification action. Untroubled in her opening three encounters, Liu then came out on top against Germany’s Nina Mittelham in a fierce 4-3 contest to seal her spot in the main draw.
Coming through four qualification bouts can be difficult enough but the task was about to become even trickier for Liu with Japanese no.12 seed Miyu Kato awaiting in round one. With the odds in her favour it was Kato who struck first with a strong opening game performance but, all of a sudden, the situation was reversed with Liu winning four games in a row to pull off a major scalp (5-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4).
A truly mesmerising performance from the young Chinese star and she backed it up with another impressive outing in round two, outpacing the no.5 seed from Singapore, Feng Tianwei to sail through with a straight games victory (11-9, 11-5, 11-8, 11-3).
Next up for Liu is a quarter-final meeting with one of her toughest opponents yet as she prepares to take on World no.10 Miu Hirano in what’s anticipated to be a wild ride.
Regardless of what unfolds next Liu can leave the Czech Republic with her head held high, beating two highly respected seeded players in Miyu Kato and Feng Tianwei. But, what lies ahead on the close horizon following the close of play in Olomouc?
As a member of the Chinese national set up Liu trains regularly with world class athletes, learning key lessons from the county’s finest on a daily basis and will continue to make great strides in her game as time goes on.
Sun Yingsha, 18, is undoubtedly the benchmark when it comes to the Chinese teenage scene having three women’s singles gold medals on the ITTF World Tour and now occupies the no.7 spot in the world rankings list. She still has a long way to go before the comparisons can be made but Liu Weishan is beginning to turn heads and could well be the next in a long line of future Chinese stars.