The WTT Star Contender Goa brought some of the world’s best players to India, the first occasion hosting an event of this scale in some time. Team JOOLA’s Lily Zhang relished the experience and wrote about her competition and upcoming challenge in Singapore!
For me, this WTT Star Contender was the fourth occasion in which I found myself competing here in India. The last time was the Ultimate Table Tennis Season back in 2018, which now seems like a lifetime ago.
There is a certain pride on display when major table tennis events are held here, the venue presentation has a lot of effort put into it, the promotion of the players both online and to the locals is a high priority, which is always pleasant.
The crowds of spectators are enthusiastic, they are vocal in their support on their home turf. The nice thing about the fans is that, while they raise the roof for local Indian stars like Harmeet Desai and Manika Batra, they also afford an incredibly heart-warming support for all of the international players there.
It was really nice to feel so welcomed there and to have people backing me for the competition, I’m very grateful to the fans who showed up and gave me such great encouragement.
I managed to get in some good practice sessions, fortunately I arrived a couple of days earlier so I had a bit more time to adjust to being in a new timezone. It was still tough as my match was at 6pm which is 4am in California time, so I felt a little groggy.
I played against Zion Lee from Korea, it wasn’t the best match overall but there were definitely opportunities lost and plenty of good learning experiences to take away from it.
It was the round of 64 match in the main draw and I lost 3-1, but I lost out in both the first and fourth games by 12-10 margins. I think I felt more nervous in the pressure situations, there are longer gaps between when I am playing professional level matches or competition now and this is definitely an area I feel has been tougher to handle with that important match-play missing.
I felt like in those most crucial points I played too passively and a bit safe. I also rushed too much when opportunities to win points presented themselves, sometimes the ball was a little high and I would go in to try and finish the point instead of taking those split second moments to position well and line the ball up to ensure my chance of success was almost certain.
I fly now to Singapore where I have only a small time adjustment and a few more days to prepare with the Singapore national team before the WTT Grand Smash event.
Goa may not have yielded the results I was hoping for but it was a high level event and I was able to get good practice and a high level match under my belt in a similar environment to what I will face at the Singapore Smash.
I’m really looking forward to Singapore Smash as it is probably the toughest event on the table tennis calendar this year. Where the WTTC has national association quotas, the Singapore Smash is open to the highest world ranked qualifiers, that means the level of competition is really tough and you can expect the majority of the world’s top 50 players to be there, with many more top players fighting to qualify to the main draw.
I’m excited and look forward to bringing my best to the table and seeing how far I can go!
A pleasure to be joined by Team JOOLA’s 3-time US Olympian Lily Zhang! Lily talks about the decision making processes when choosing between training full