The 2020 season welcomes 6 foreign association players, with Lin Yun-Ju joining the Shandong Weiqiao Club, and the 5 female stars forming an “ITTF World Professionals” team to compete at the League. Although it’s not the first time for players from foreign associations featuring at the Chinese Super League, it is the first time for an independent international team to be competing, and it is the joint efforts of the International Table Tennis Federation through their High Performance and Development Department (ITTF) and the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) to make this happen.
After WTT Macao, the 6 international stars followed the Chinese National Team back to their training base in Chengdu. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and training environment, the Chinese National Team also has the world’s best training partners. The ITTF and the CTTA decided to form the “ITTF World Professionals”, much to the excitement of the 5 female players – Adriana Diaz (PUR), Lily Zhang (USA), Jeon Jihee (KOR), Doo Hoi Kem (HKG) and Cheng I-Ching (TPE).
The Chinese Table Tennis Super League is a world-class professional table tennis league, and the CTTA has been trying innovative ways to create a top-level league event, even in times of the pandemic. At the same time, the ITTF is committed to create more opportunities for athletes to compete, as well as enhancing interaction and exchanges among athletes of different associations, and mutual support and assistance among members of the world table tennis family.
As the only male foreign association player, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju said that it was his first-time training in such a large training hall and the atmosphere is very good. He has been following the Chinese National Team’s training routine over the past 2 weeks, the training intensity is very high, it’s been tiring but he’s very happy with it. He added that joining the Shandong Weiqiao Club did give him pressure, but also motivation to play well.
ITTF CEO Steve Dainton stated that despite the ongoing pandemic, it has always been one of the ITTF’s top priority to put athletes at the core, to create more opportunities for them to compete as well as to provide a better training and competition environment for players all over the world. The formation of the ” ITTF World Professionals” was not planned. When the players arrived in China, he discussed with the CTTA to see if they could provide more training and competition opportunities for players from other associations. The CTTA offered the chance for those within the bubble whom were interested to travel to china to practice with the Chinese National Team and make some competitions. This then eventually led to the successful formation of the women’s ” ITTF World Professionals”. This shows the positive communication and exchanges between the ITTF and the CTTA, and also shows the world how many possibilities the world’s top table tennis players will have in the future after the pandemic.
This Women’s “ITTF World Professionals” Team is organized and supported by the ITTF High Performance and Development Team, led by Ms. Polona Cehovin. China is a table tennis powerhouse with the world’s best players, the participation of an independent international team at the Chinese Super League is the best embodiment of the table tennis family. Steve Dainton recalled that both Lily Zhang and Adriana Diaz had trained at the Chengdu training base when they were young. He also foreseen over a decade ago that they would become global stars, and now that they have established themselves as strong forces in the sport, he believes this is an extremely positive outcome of the exchange between China and the world.
WTT Council Chair and CTTA President Liu Guoliang shared that table tennis is a global sport and the integration of the “ITTF World Professionals” team is a more open approach for the Chinese Super League and could even open up a new chapter for the League in future. For the CTTA, it’s also our way to contribute to the global table tennis family. While ensuring our own growth and development, Chinese table tennis also has the responsibility to deliver advanced training and competition concepts to the world at the same time, and Chinese players will also have more opportunities to interact more and communication with star players from foreign associations as well.
In accordance with COVID19 regulations, the 2020 Chinese Table Tennis Super League will be held in a bubble environment to ensure the health and safety of all the participants.