(by Steve Hopkins, photo by ITTFWorld)
NASA coined the term “T-Minus” for space launches with the “T” indicating “Time” as the countdown proceeded. Many of their iconic broadcasts include statements from Launch Control indicating that all systems are “go” before changing over from a countdown of minutes into the final countdown of seconds. The momentous occasion on our sport’s horizon will not involve rocket engines firing, but it will draw the eyes of millions of table tennis fans – and the anticipation for these events has now been building for over 6 months.
Its almost time for the three ITTF events that are collectively being called the ITTF RESTART events. The ITTF has selected 21 male and 21 female athletes to come to China to participate in the Women’s World Cup, the Men’s World Cup, and the 2020 ITTF Finals. The first of these events will be the Women’s World Cup which is scheduled to begin on November 8, just 18 days away. Over the next two weeks, we will spend a little time highlighting some of the elite players who have been selected to compete. In keeping with the NASA theme, this is an opportunity to TURN OUR FOCUS ON THE STARS as they provide an exciting November of Table Tennis. The ITTF RESTART will begin in TT Minus 11 Days.
RESTART PROFILE: “The Americans”, Lily Zhang and Jennifer Wu
Its an honor just to participate in the World Cup and with only 21 players participating, most countries don’t have representation at all. This year, the United States has two players in the mix; Lily Zhang and Yue “Jennifer” Wu. To highlight this further, the U.S. is one of six countries to send two players – we are joining perennial powerhouses China, Japan, Taipei, Korea, and Germany. For Lily and Jennifer, this isn’t the first time – they were both present in Chengdu a year ago at the 2019 Women’s World Cup as well (see photo). In 2019, Lily Zhang became the first American woman to reach the semi-finals of a Women’s World Cup.
Lily is an Olympian and a 5-time US National Champion. Her World Ranking is 27 and she qualified for the Women’s World Cup with her No. 2 finish at the Pan Am Cup. At different times Lily has risen to the top in the world rankings in her age divisions (she was No. 2 in her age group when the was 14, and she was No. 5 in her age group when she was 17) and now at age 24, she is hoping to peak in the next year at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Jennifer surprised many in 2015 by winning the Pan Am Games as an unranked player and earning a spot at the 2016 Olympics. Since then, she has racked up titles and accolades as one of the strongest American players and perennial US Team Member. She qualified as the second American player by finishing third in the Pan Am Cup.
Visit ButterflyOnline.com during the events for coverage and results.