(by Steve Hopkins)
With hype building in the United States for the Super Bowl this weekend, the ITTF published an article about table tennis viewership in China. For the biggest event of our biggest sport, Nielsen ratings generally show about a 43% viewership number (103 million viewers) – meaning almost half of the TVs on Sunday night will be tuned to that channel. According to the ITTF’s data, China has similar numbers for their biggest sport – with 41.9% of the country watching table tennis on TV during 2018 with nearly 450 million watching major ITTF events that are broadcast there.
Chinese fans will be happy this week to see that they once again hold the top three spots in both the ITTF Men’s World Rankings and the ITTF Women’s World Rankings.
Not much has changed among the Top 10 lists for men or women in February. The notable change for the men is that Lin Gaoyuan moved up from 4th to 3rd, bumping Japan’s Harimoto down one place. The top three are now Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, and Lin Gaoyuan – all from China. The rest of the Top 10 remains unchanged: Harimoto (JPN), Boll (GER), Calderano (BRA), Lee (KOR), Wong (HKG), Niwa (JPN), and Mizutani (JPN).
The women’s list mirrors the men’s list this month as China’s Meng Chen have moved from fourth to third, pushing Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa down one spot. The top three spots are now all China: Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling, and Chen Meng. The rest of the Top 10 remains unchanged: Ishikawa (JPN), Liu (CHN), Wang (CHN), Ito (JPN), Cheng (TPE), Hirano (JPN), and Feng (SGP).
Brazil’s Hugo Calderano remains the top player in the Western Hemisphere at No. 6. Dimitrij Ovtcharov continues to hover at No. 14 as he recovers from an injury. Sweden’s Mattias Falk is the second highest ranked European player at No. 13.
Kanak Jha, the top American, has broken the Top 50. Jha (No. 49) joins Korea’s Cho Seungmin (48) and China’s Zhou Yu (43) as each breaks into the World Top 50 for the first time. Nicholas Tio (278) and Nikhil Kumar (288) are the second and third Americans in the rankings. Canada’s Eugene Wang is second in North America at No. 178, with Marko Medjugorac (230) and Jeremy Hazin (318) as the next two highest ranked Canadians. Brian Afanador is the top ranked player in Puerto Rico (No. 119) with Daniel Gonzalez (163) and Ricardo Jimenez (461) second and third.
On the women’s side, Canada’s Mo Zhang is the top North American player at No. 23. She is followed by five Americans: Jennifer Wu (No.45), Lily Zhang (No. 86), Angela Guan (171), Xinyue Wang (205), and Amy Wang (273). The next two ranked players in Canada are Alicia Cote (293) and Ivy Liao (616). Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico leads the Latin and South American players with her ranking of No. 30.
There are 8 events in February including the World Cup and Euro Top 16. And there are 16 events in March. Overall, there are 135 scheduled ITTF events in 2019. This should be an exciting year.
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