Saturday 18 October 2014

Top 5 Veteran Table Tennis Ladies You Don't Want to Mess With!

As we all know table tennis is a sport for all backgrounds and conquers all barriers of race, physical ability and age. This spurred on a fun article on the top 5 over 40 women you really don't want to pick a fight with out on the table tennis table. Prepare to be inspired by these still amazing veterans who are still competing at top international level and are as youthful as ever! Please note these are not in any particular order :D

1. Li Jiao - Netherlands

Li Jiao at the WTTC
Li Jiao is a youthful 41 years of age and has been knocking on the door of the top 10 women in the world for many years in the sport. Currently ranked 20th in the world on the October 2014 ITTF World Ranking List, she is still as cunning as ever out on the table. A traditional style penholder from China, Li has represented the Netherlands for many years, and proudly so. She was the winner of the European Top 12 on 4 occasions (2007,08,10,11), European Champion in 2007 and a quarterfinalist at the 2005 World Table Tennis Championships in Shanghai.

In this year's world championships she scored 2 points in the Netherlands 3-2 loss to Japan in the quarterfinals, with 5 set wins over Kasumi Ishikawa and Sayaka Hirano. Exhibiting an impressive arsenal of serves, she also commands excellent control on her backhand, impeccable placement and a powerful forehand attack.

2. Ni Xia Lian - Luxembourg

51 year old Ni Xia Lian 
Over the hill at 51 years old, Ni Xia Lian is still a hotshot on the table tennis table. A former Chinese professional player, Ni was a gold medallist in the 1983 WTTC China team, a bronze medallist in the doubles and gold medallist with Guo Yuehua in the mixed doubles. She also won a doubles silver medal 2 years later at the 85 World Champs. In Europe, she was a 3 time European Championships finalist, winning on two occasions in 98 and 02.

Her penhold style and twiddling combination of short and long pimpled rubbers caused havoc for many of her opponents with her being able to control and vary the pace and spin to an incredibly frustrating level. She reached a peak World Ranking of 8th in 2002 and still remains 63rd this month (Oct 2014), well within the top 100 international players in the world.

3. Jian Fang Lay - Australia

Australia's Jian Fang Lay
Jian Fang Lay is as competitive as ever at 41 years of age. The winner of this year's Oceania World Cup Qualification and 12 other historic Oceania Championship medals, she is one of Australia's top female players. Lay moved to Australia from China and has been in the Australian National team for the last 20 years. She was a competitive junior player in China and peaked at a World Ranking of 45th in 1996. She remains 120th in the World today and shows no sign of slowing down.

With a reputation for lightning fast penhold twiddling between her inverted attacking rubber and long pimple rubber, Lay is able to alter the ball spin and speed to extremes, combining the slow and awkward long pimple returns with spinny or high paced topspin strokes with her normal rubber. This has caused her to continue to compete at the highest international level.

4. Li Chunli - New Zealand

Li Chunli - New Zealand
At 52 years old and after a period in retirement, Li Chunli is back out on the table chasing the Olympic Dream. A member of the Chinese National Team for 3 years from 1981, Chunli moved to New Zealand and quickly established herself as number 1 with 9 National Singles titles in a row from 1987 to 1995. Chunli was a bronze medallist at the 1997 World Cup and 4th in 1998, defeating the World Number 2, Li Ju in the competition. She peaked at a World Ranking of 19th.

Li was the first Commonwealth Games Champion in 2002, winning a gold in the singles over Li Jiawei of Singapore. She also won medals in the teams, doubles and mixed doubles events. She retired after the 2004 Athens games, but returned and qualified 2nd at the 2012 Olympic Games Qualification in Oceania. She was Oceania Cup champion in 2012 and still holds a World Ranking today of 144th. With a rapid penhold, short pimple attacking game, Li Chunli plays traditionally using the same side for all her backhand strokes. With a strong focus on service and fast drives and smashes, Li proves she still has the speed to keep up with many opponents out on the table. She was part of the team which won 3rd division at this year's World Team Championships.

5. Krisztina Toth - Hungary

Krisztina Toth - Hungary
Krisztina Toth turned 40 years old this year and has a wealth of experience. She is a left handed inverted rubber shakehand player who peaked at 13th in the ITTF World Rankings and remained top 100 in the world until November 2013, leaving the World Ranking list at 112th in January 2014. She is a 4 time European Championships singles medallist and boasted wins in her career over such players as Feng Tianwei, Georgina Pota, Tie Yana, Kim Jong and many others. She finished in the Top 3 in the European Top 12 on 3 occasions.

Toth earned over 20 European Championship medals in her career and had class in her game style, often resorting to creative shots and world class lobbing. She could in style terms be compared as a female Jan-Ove Waldner, with her masterful control and superb looping game.

A wealth of experience among these 5 champions of table tennis and all the respect in the world for their level of skill, commitment and passion to the sport. We salute you!

1 comment:

  1. Almost all of these players are penholders. Almost all of these are the only female penholders left, professionally. I hope Eka So, Tin Tin Ho, and Zhou Xintong can carry the torch. Which brings up the topic of who is actually the best female penholder in the world, currently? You might think about making an article on this.


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