|Guangdong and Shandong Luneng players warm-up|
The Chinese Superleague is the most high level table tennis league on the planet, one I had watched on the internet and television, but this was a unique experience for me. I had front row seats to a clash of some of the world's best table tennis players. Shandong Luneng would put forward an intimidating lineup with Shang Kun and Fang Bo taking the lead, for me the real honour of this contest was seeing the fighting spirit of Guangdong as they fought for glory.
The first match saw Xu Chenhao take on Shang Kun. The left hander Shang Kun from Shandong team has great touch and is perhaps most well known for defeating Ma Long at the Japan Open in 2015 right after Ma became World Champion for the first time.
Shang Kun would exhibit incredible touch and some very precise inside out forehand loops to take a lead but Xu Chenhao was beginning to wake up. He quickly saw that a passive game with short forehand counter strokes would not lead him to victory and began searching for opportunities to be more aggressive. The match boiled down to the 5th game, played to 7 points rather than 11 (a special league rule). Shang Kun took a decisive lead, but as with the rest of the match Xu fought back in spectacular style and in a full extension he won 11-9, taking the first point to the delight of the Guangdong home crowd.
With an early advantage in the best of 5 match team competition it would be upon Zheng Peifeng, the explosive penhold player, to take on 2015 World Championship silver medalist, Fang Bo. This match boasted even more fire power than the previous with some dazzling rallies as both players ventured further from the table. Fang Bo asserted himself in the match and held a 2-1 lead, making difficulty for Zheng with his reverse pendulum service.
Zheng would force a 5th and again the spectators were treated to a high pressure situation as both players battled for supremacy. It would be joy for the Shenzhen homeside as they clutched their second point in the tie. 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist Chen Jing watched on with satisfaction as the team looked victory in the eye.
|A rare opportunity to meet the team after an impressive 3-0 win!|
A very unique experience and one I enjoyed very much, a special thank you to Chen Jing Table Tennis Club for making arrangements for us to attend this event!