Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, February 02, 2004

Chinese tennis: select the right breakthrough point

Chinese tennis players Zheng Jie/Yan Zi and Li Ting/Sun Tiantian unprecedentedly entered quarterfinal and rounds 4 of Australia Open respectively. Their wonderful performance embodies substantial outcome of China's reform on tennis.


Chinese tennis players Zheng Jie/Yan Zi and Li Ting/Sun Tiantian unprecedentedly entered quarterfinal and rounds 4 of Australia Open respectively. Their wonderful performance embodies substantial outcome of China's reform on tennis.

Sending players abroad for competitions regardless of cost
To tell the truth, there is a big gap between Chinese tennis' level and international level, but this does not mean Chinese players do not possess the required physique and potentials to become world top contestants. The success of female Japanese tennis player, Kimiko Date, who once ranked fourth in the world and active Thai player Srichaphan have shown that Asian players can do well in tennis. The crux of the matter is that for a long time in the past, the development of Chinese tennis had failed to comply with the development trend of world tennis and therefore has never found the correct way forward.

Featuring highly professional and commercial, international tennis nowadays possesses a unique rule on training and contesting systems, which is completely different from other sporting events. Tennis tournaments are going on everywhere in the world almost every week. The number of tournaments is beyond common people's imagination. The intensity of tournaments is about the same as soccer, the No. 1 game in the world. The world top player can work himself (herself) up to such a peak level only after long years of playing in various tournaments around the world. Only by participating in competitions continuously can a player gain his due points, and certain points are required for participating in tournaments of a higher level.

While players of other countries are going abroad enthusiastically, Chinese players are still accustomed to doing exercises at home, which is out of tune with international practice and results in low points, lack of game experience and failure in games. The player's confidence is subsequently seriously hurt, thus giving rise to vicious cycles.

After repeated probes and attempts, China Tennis Administration Center determined to switch over to professionalism and international tennis practice. As of last year, The Chinese Tennis Association selected women's doubles as a breakthrough point and sent contestants abroad. The four women tennis players, Zheng Jie, Yan Zi, Li Ting and Sun Tiantian took part in more than 30 tournaments in the past year alone. Having been gradually adapted to professional's life rhythm, their achievements went up steadily and their world ranking rose significantly. Li Ting and Sun Tiantian's world rank enabled them to enter the Australian Open. What is more, they are listed as seeded players. After one-year exercise with professional players, the Chinese players' confidence was greatly enhanced. They said, "We dare to compete with any competitor whoever he is."

More development rooms for doubles
Selecting women's doubles as a breakthrough point is a carefully made decision. Since the international tennis world pays more attention to personal scores, many top players do not compete in doubles games, nor do they have fixed partners. Even if they participate in the doubles, they tend to find a temporary partner just before the game. Subsequently frequent changes of partners and pairs formed by players of different nationalities are very common. The hurriedly formed pair can by no means have satisfactory result in the games. The combination of two good single players is not necessarily equal to top double players.

The foreign players' randomness on doubles brings about unexpected development room for Chinese players. As long-year partners, Zheng Jie/Yan Zi and Li Ting/Sun Tiantian are well coordinated. Moreover, they seldom took part in singles, which allows them to concentrate energy on doubles games.

At the beginning of the New Year, Chinese tennis saw a good beginning, which gives people a reason to expect that Chinese tennis will reap more in the year of Olympics.

By People's Daily Online

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