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Lily Zhang who beat Hina Hayata Photo By: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki

Lily Zhang Upsets World Order, Move to Europe Proved Beneficial

Lily Zhang Upsets World Order, Move to Europe Proved Beneficial
2015 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open
Courtesy of ITTF

Bronze medalist at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Lily Zhang of the United States, was very much the player to attract the attention on the morning of the second day of play, Thursday November 12th, at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Swedish Open.

Presently listed at no.93 on the Women’s World Rankings, she accounted for Japan’s Hina Hayata, named at no.59, in six games (12-10, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9) to cause the first upset of the day.

Strong Backhand
“I was well aware that Hina was strong from the backhand”, said Lily Zhang; notably Hina Hayata is left-handed, dominant from the backhand, creating angles, she excels.

“Whenever possible I tried to play wide to her forehand”, added Lily Zhang. “Her services are good but they tended to be a little long and I was able to top spin the return; play with a lot of rotation.”

Varied Return
Undoubtedly, as in all contests at international level, the return of service was vital.

“When she did serve short I tried to return short or push the ball hard and long”, continued Lily Zhang. “However, I think the most important factor was that I kept calm, I tried not to think about the score but about playing each point.”

Werner Schlager Academy
Currently Lily Zhang is based at the Werner Schlager Academy in Schwechat, Vienna. She has been there since September and is representing the SVS Ströck Club, the move would seem to be paying dividends.

“I am really pleased that I made the decision to move to Schwechat”, emphasized Lily Zhang. “I love it, it is a whole new experience.”

Also at the Werner Schlager Academy and are several other young ladies with aspirations of graduating to a higher level.

“Tatiana Bilenko, Matilda Ekholm, Sayaka Hirano, Tamolwan Khetkhuan, Marie Migot and Lea Rakovac are all there”, explained Lily Zhang. “It’s a really good atmosphere and much different to the United States where much of the coaching is one to one; at the Academy we have physical training, massage, for sure in the United States I’ve never experienced a massage session!”

The group ethos is very different for Lily Zhang but without doubt it is an atmosphere in which she is clearly reveling.

Group of Coaches
“There is a group of coaches all working together”, added Lily Zhang. “Technically, I’m trying to improve my backhand top spin, use the wrist more; play with more rotation.”

Zheng Jiaqi 
Success for the United States and as matters progressed in the second preliminary round there was more success for the Stars and Stripes.

In a hard fought seven games duel by the very narrowest of margins, Zheng Jiaqi accounted for the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova (11-6, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 8-11, 6-11, 13-11).

Again, as with Lily Zhang it was an upset: currently Barbora Balazova is named at no.88 on the Women’s World Rankings, Zheng Jiaqi is at no.162.

Main Draws

  • U-21 Men’s Singles
  • U-21 Women’s Singles

Preliminary Rounds

  • Men’s Singles
  • Women’s Singles
  • Men’s Doubles
  • Women’s Doubles
  • U-21 Men’s Singles
  • U-21 Women’s Singles

Visit the 2015 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open competition page for complete coverage.

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