We caught up with Team JOOLA’s Petrissa Solja to see how she spent the last year and to learn more about her experience at the ITTF bubble events in Weihai, China and Macau. Check out our interview with her below!
Tell us what you were up to during the first half of 2020.
When the Coronavirus first started and during Germany’s lockdown, I got the news that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was postponed. I had been training hard and was very much looking forward to it, so I decided to take some time off to recover and to rearrange my thoughts.
Because the facilities were closed during the lockdown, I often went to my parents’ house to practice with my dad in their basement and it felt just like when my career first started.
When the Coronavirus restrictions eased, I went to Düsseldorf for several weeks to practice with the German National Team. It was so nice to see all my friends again!
After 6 months without competition, the German league started back up in September. Even though I was so happy and really enjoyed the competitions, it was a strange feeling to finally be back. Normally, I’m used to competitions every week or at least every month because during the season – when I’m not practicing with the National Team – I practice at Grünwettersbach.
How did you feel when you learned that you would be participating in the ITTF #Restart bubble events in China?
When I heard that I qualified for all 3 events in China and Macau, I was very happy and proud. I was proud because only the world’s best players were invited by ITTF to play in these tournaments and I was one of them.
How was your experience traveling and dealing with all the new safety precautions and regulations surrounding COVID-19?
It was really hard work to get permission to travel to China. Without the German Federation, it would not have been possible. There were so many regulations, documents and tests. I got the confirmation that I was cleared to travel to China only one day before my flight.
In total I stayed almost 6 weeks in Asia, and I knew it will be very tough. It was a great experience, but the two weeks of quarantine, additional COVID measures and isolation, 14 PCR tests, daily health reporting, and time difference made it an exhausting trip.
What was it like competing at the 3 bubble events?
I had tonsillitis at the World Cup, so I really had no power during my matches. Luckily, between the Women’s World Cup and the Finals, I had many days to recover and to practice. It was a great experience getting to practice with the best players all over the world. I even got the chance to practice with Sun Yingsha, which I was very excited about.
I am very satisfied with my performance at the ITTF Finals. I had a great victory against Feng Tianwei and was even leading 2:0 against the world-ranked number one.
I was not so satisified with my performance at WTT Macau. I wished I had done better and won some more matches there. Looking back, I think I couldn’t play my best in Macau because I couldn’t keep up the intensity for so many weeks at a time. I hope to learn from this experience, be able to cope better, and perform better next time. However, the players presentations at the tournaments were awesome. I have never seen such a big screen before. I enjoyed the new orange and black theme, and the light shows. It really felt like a special event.
How do you feel about ITTF’s recent format changes?
I don’t know what to think about the format changes. In the past there had been so many changes in attempts to make it more interesting for the spectators, but I don’t those efforts made more people pay attention to table tennis because there was a lack of accessibility. It really was a great show in Macau. So many people wrote to me saying that they woke up early and wanted to follow my match, but the matches were not streamed in Germany. This was very disappointing. I don’t believe German spectators will care about any of changes ITTF made because they can’t watch many of the matches anyways.
What did you enjoy most about your bubble experience?
The people. In the past at the competitions, there was rarely time to speak with each other.
This time in China, we all stayed together in one place for many weeks. I’m happy for the time we spent together, getting to know each other better. I think this was the most special part for me.
Petrissa Solja's Equipment
JOOLA Dynaryz ACC
JOOLA Dynaryz ACC
JOOLA Nobilis PBO-C