Competitive Table Tennis at YCIS Beijing
Year 11 YCIS Beijing athlete Mio Kawai talks table tennis strategy and what the sport has meant to her.
When did you first start playing table tennis?
I first started playing table tennis when I was four years old when I lived in Suzhou, China. I started playing the sport for fun and to stay active; plus, it was one of the most popular sports in China. At that time I didn’t think I would continue playing seriously for the next 12 years.
What is your favourite part about the sport?
My favourite part of table tennis is competing in games. There are many different skills and strategies used in table tennis and it is very fun to plan how to use those skills during games to win points.
How do you prepare for your games? Any special pre-game rituals that you engage in?
Before the game, I usually practise my serves and the tactic we call “third ball attack”. The “third ball attack” strategy is to serve and attack the third ball that is returned. It’s a very popular strategy and is used often by most of the table tennis players around the world. I practise serving because I think serve is the first attack I can do in the game. A good serve lets me execute a third ball attack easily.
What is your favourite memory involving table tennis?
My favourite memory involving table tennis was in 2013 during the All Japan Junior High School Championship as one of the players on my school team. At that time, I was still in Japanese junior high school. My family was moving to China the day after the games, so it was the last tournament I would play in Japan and the last opportunity to spend time with my teammates. Everybody on our team played their best and we were selected as one of the best eight teams in Japan.
What do you think this sport teaches you outside of how to play better? Has playing the sport taught you any life lessons?
Table tennis has taught me that I need to practise more than other people if I want to win. One of my teammates practised until 12 o’clock with her coach every day and she was very good. It also taught me that teamwork is extremely important. During the All Japan Championship, our team didn’t really like one another initially because we all thought we were rivals. However, we would not able to win the tournament without teamwork since the other team was very good. We held a meeting and talked to each other. We decided that if we worked as a team and played for our team, we could perform better. The results of the tournament showed us the results that teamwork can yield.
How has YCIS Beijing helped to develop your table tennis skills?
My YCIS Beijing coaches have taught me how to relax and be confident before games. The advice really helped me because I often get very nervous during the game which makes me miss serves and makes it difficult to play normally. One example was the recent U19 tournament held at the school. I was still a little nervous during the tournament but, thanks to my coach’s advice, I was able to play the last two sets during the game with confidence.