(Chung’s notes: this summary is a compilation of many news articles from the web. Besides reporting on the Super League results, this summary also gives an up-to-date account of the best players in China. I would estimate that 99% of the top Chinese players are currently playing for a Super League club; the only exception I can think of is Li Ju, who is retired from the national team and now playing for an A-League team.)
The first phase of the 2002 Chinese Super League is now completed, with the last match played on May 25 between Sichuan and Heilongjiang. First let’s look at the rosters of the 12 men’s and the 12 women’s teams:
Click on the links to see photos of the players. The order of the players is the same as that of the photos. Birth-dates are in parentheses.
PLA-ICBC : Wang Tao (67/12/13), Wang Hao (83/12/1), Zhan Jian (81/1/1), Bai Shi (85/1/6).
Shanghai Edelweiss : Wang Liqin (78/6/8), Guo Jinhao (80/1/5), Xi Minjie (78/2/4), Wang Jun (80/1/5)
Shandong Luneng : Ma Lin (80/2), Liu Guozheng (80/3), Zhang Yong (75/1), Guo Keli (78/4).
Heilongjiang Sanjing : Kong Linghui (75/10/18), Wang Fei (74/3/15), Xu Hui (83/11/6), Zhang Peng (79/9/23).
Beijing : Tang Peng (82/6), Gao Wei (78/8/5), Hou Yingchao (82/6/15), Liu Heng (82).
Nanjing : Shan Mingjie (83/6), Wu Bin (82/3), Zhu Jiang (83/3), Chen Qi (84/4)
Sichuan : Wang Jianjun (80/3/2), Zhao Peng (81/1/19), Chen Junji (84), Ye Roting (82/1/7)
Guangdong : Qin Zhijian, Ko Lai Chak, Zhang Chao, Chiang Peng Lung (only played the last 3 rounds).
Hebei : Li Jing (75/3), Han Yang (78/11/11), Jiang Jianan (83/1/20), Liu Zhijiang (1978), Wang Qin (85/11/13).
Shaanxi : Liu Guoliang (76/1/10, player-coach), Yan Sen (75/8/16), Zhang Lizi (84/2/18), Leung Chu Yan (1978, Hong Kong TTA)
Zhejiang : Cheung Yuk (1981/10/28, Hong Kong TTA), Jin Enhua (1977), Chen Jian (1978), Sha Chenbin (84/1)
Tianjin 729 : Hao Shuai (84/10/1), Li Ping (86/5/18), Qiu Yike (85/1/27), Li Yan (85/4/19), Yao Xin (83/7/16).
(2 points for a win, 1 point for a loss)
Luneng (21 points)
Guangdong (19 points)
Heilongjiang, Zhejiang (tied at 18 points)
PLA (17 points)
Shanghai, Beijing, Shaanxi (tied at 16 points)
Nanjing, Sichuan (tied at 15 points)
Tianjin (14 points)
Hebei (13 points)
Format: Best of 5 matches, and the first 4 matches of the team tie are always played. First three matches are singles, and the 4th doubles. 11-point scoring is used, and best out of 5 is used for each match. If the score is tied after the first 4 matches, a "Golden-Ball" singles match will be played, and the first player to score 5 points wins the match. In the Golden Ball match, service will alternate after every point. Current service rules were used during Phase 1. Starting with Phase 2, which begins on June 15, the new, no-hidden-serve rule will be in effect.
Matches are played on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The first phase of the Super League offers us a glimpse at the depth of the Chinese. Relatively unheralded players such as Hao Shuai, Wang Jianjun, etc., have proven to be the equals of the world champions. The penholder style seems to be alive and doing very well. Ma Lin is my choice for MVP, if such an award were to be given today. Ma Lin has a record of 19 wins and 2 losses, both singles and doubles matches included. He has not lost since the second round. Qin Zhijian, Wang Jianjun, Wang Hao are all penholders that have done extremely well. Liu Guoliang is also performing at a very high level, leading the Shaanxi Guoliang club to some semblance of respectability.
To further provide incentive to the young players, the Chinese national team awards 2 points to its young members for every Super League win, and 3 points if the win is over a world champion. The total points, together with results in the internal round-robins, will determine whether a young team member gets to compete internationally. The top 6 young players based on overall scores will play in the Pro-Tours, and the last two will demote to the 2nd national team. This no doubt has given the young players the much-needed desire to beat the established players.
Not counting Golden Ball results, here are the top singles players. Ma Lin and Wang Hao are both 10-1. Wang Liqin, Liu Guoliang and Liu Guozheng are 9-2. Kong, Hao Shuai, Wang Jianjun and Zhan Jian are 8-3.
Phase 2 will be very interesting, since the new no-hidden-serve rules will be in use. It will be very interesting to see if the penholders can keep up their success
On May 22, China and Belgium played a challenge match in China. Earlier this year, the two teams played a challenge match in Belgium, and the Chinese were upset in a 0-3 loss. This time, the Chinese reversed the results, scoring a 3-0 victory.
Ma Lin first faced J-M Saive, and went up 2-1. In the 4th, Ma was ahead 10-9, but then Saive played aggressively to score the next 3 points, winning the game 12-10. In the 5th, Ma Lin played the short balls carefullt to control the tempo, and won the game 11-7. China was up 1-0.
Wang was normally a much better player than P. Saive, but he quickly lost the first two games at 2 and 6! Then Wang started to find his touch again, and won the next three games at 7, 5, and 6. In the 3rd match, Kong was equally absent-minded, losing the first two games to Bratanov at 6. In the 3rd, Kong had to struggle to win at 9. Bratanov continued to pressure Kong, who had to fight off match points to win the 4th game at 16-14. Finally Kong prevailed 11-9 in the 5th to score a very difficult match.
Even though China won 3-0, the players did not seem to be in top shape. This does not bode well for the Chinese in the upcoming Pro-Tours, starting with the China Open at the end of May.
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