Qian Tianyi stating her case
Representing Shandong Luneng, lining up alongside Chen Xingtong and Wang Manyu, in the women’s division of the Chinese Super League, which concluded in Guangzhou on Tuesday 29th December, it was silver for Qian Tianyi.
However, there was more than consolation for the 20-year-old, in what could be regarded the most exacting national competition of its kind anywhere in the world; to even gain a place in one of the teams you must be a player of very high quality. Most notably, she emerged the only unbeaten player, perfection.
Overall, the record read, played 11 matches, won 11 matches; played 38 games, won 33, lost 5; to be more precise, 1,025 points, 617 won, 408 lost.
Somewhat unusually, of those matches, only one was a singles contest; that fact pays great credit to the efforts of Chen Xingtong and Wang Manyu who, time again provided most impressive performances, to
enable convincing team victories.
Ten of the wins recorded by Qian Tianyi were secured in the doubles, eight times partnering Chen Xingtong, twice in harness with Wang Manyu; the one singles success came on Friday 25th December in the seventh series of matches when opposing Beijing Shougang. Imposingly she accounted for Li Jiayuan (11-5, 13-11, 11-8).
The fact that Qian Tianyi played only one singles match should not detract from her performance in Guangzhou, nor should it lessen her importance in the Chinese national team. The doubles was the first match of the fixture, in that contest there is the added pressure of giving your team the best possible start; it’s mentally much more beneficial for your ensuing colleague to be entering the arena when the team is one-nil ahead rather than the reverse.
Moreover, Qian Tianyi is left handed, she is the ideal foil for the right hander; just as in the Chinese Super League, in the team event at the Olympic Games, the doubles starts proceedings. Could this fact just give Qian Tianyi the edge when selection for the Chinese women’s team at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is on the menu?
Ding Ning is the incumbent top name amongst Chinese left handers but four years hence, she will be 34 years of age; in the recent Chinese Super League, she did not shine, there have been injury problems, can we really expect her to be present in the French capital city?
Accepted that Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu, the winners of the women’s doubles title at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships are both right handers, as were the bronze medallists Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling but time and again, when at all possible China has favoured the left and right handed competition. In fact, prior to the success of Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu in Budapest, the most recent all right handed pairing to be crowned world champions were their colleagues Deng Yaping and Yang Ying in 1997 in Manchester!
Moreover, consider the current world rankings, at no.24, Qian Tianyi is the next Chinese left hander to Ding Ning; her nearest team rival with such a style is Gu Yuting at no.40; then you must go some distance down the order to 16 year old Kuai Man. Alas, Liu Gaoyang, also left handed, the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist no longer appears on the global listings.
Crowned both World and Asian junior champion in 2018, semi-finalist at the following year on the ITTF World Tour in Austria, notably beating Liu Shiwen en route, prior to experiencing defeat when facing Mima Ito, Qian Tianyi is increasingly stating her case for first time selection.
Now, the focus is on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, when the flame is extinguished one wonders what beckons for Qian Tianyi in the months and years to come; in Guangzhou she endorsed her credentials.
Editor: Ian Marshall