China: National Women’s Team and Pimples
Rowden Fullen (2005)
At the SOC there were no Chinese women playing with pimples, even though the female players of almost every other Asian country and many European and Americans used material. This could give rise to the thinking that perhaps Chinese women have moved past the pimples stage and no longer need the help of material. This is in fact far from the truth.
There are many pimple players within the National and the Provincial teams and in China it’s still popular and effective to play with pimples. In fact the national coaches are eager to develop another long pimple champion along the lines of Deng Yaping.
However the reason that the pimple players are not representing China internationally is that only very few players are selected to play in the big tournaments and selection is very much dependent on performance. Many pimple players have lost their advantage as they train against normal players every day and the normal players are very familiar with material techniques and tactics. The current results of the top 7 Chinese women (all in the top 10 in the world ranking and all playing with reverse rubbers) are at the moment very satisfactory and therefore the national coaches won’t take the risk of making changes just now.
As far as the youth policy is concerned China is still keen to develop the full range of women’s styles and pimple players of all types are welcome in the National Team. If such players are good enough, strong enough mentally and get good results nationally and internationally there is no way they will be overlooked.
It is interesting to note that the top Chinese pimpled racket player (defensive) Fan Ying is currently ranked 3 in the world U21 rankings (after 2 other Chinese) and 2 in the U17 ranking (after Guo Yue).
These things of course tend to go in cycles. China have very good reverse rubber women players at the moment, this could well change dramatically over the next 2 years. One factor that China must certainly take into account is the success of Song Ah Sim from Hongkong (only ranked 5 in her country and 46 in the world before the event) against the Chinese women in the SOC. Their coaches must pay close attention to how these results were achieved and evaluate whether they were the results of the rubber, the tactics, or the individual strengths of the player. Whatever, Hongkong has a very strong women’s team at the moment and presents a distinct threat to China’s overall supremacy.