Table tennis champion Xin Li makes a name for herself
At the age of 7, Xin Li discovers table tennis.
From that moment on, she devoted herself entirely to sports. She gave up all her other extracurricular activities, to better focus solely on table tennis.
At first, her mother was appalled.
“You’re a girl,” Li’s mother told him. “Are you sure you don’t want to do piano or dance?”
“No,” Li replied. “I only like ping pong.”
Despite his young age, Li did everything to master the sport. She gave it her all, training every day in her hometown of Shaanxi, China.
“Even during the summers, I never took a break,” Li said in an interview with The Beat.
Last month, Xin Li participated in the 17th USA Team Table Tennis Championships, held in Rockford, Illinois. She and her two teammates – Wang Jingxin and Wang Wei – ended up winning the championship after competing against a few hundred athletes from 18 states and 23 countries.
At just 22 years old, Li is no stranger to league wins.
Just before her 10th birthday, a coach sought her out and chose her to join a professional table tennis team. She won her first championship the very first time she competed with them.
Li also joined the Chinese provincial team in Shaanxi at the age of 15 and was the Shaanxi Provincial Women’s Table Tennis Champion in 2013. She has won many women’s championship titles in various tournaments.
Four years ago, Li decided to leave China for California on his own, hoping to find more opportunities to play ping pong and improve his skills. she moved to the Bay Area at age 18. At the time, she did not speak English.
“I came here to play, but realized I couldn’t communicate with anyone,” Li said.
So she decided to put aside her ping-pong aspirations and focus on her studies.
“I think if you have more knowledge and education, it will help you play ping pong more,” Li said. “Because with education, you open up more mentally.”
Li has spent the last few years diligently studying English and earning a degree in business administration from Ohlone College in Fremont.
She has since graduated and has now focused on table tennis.
Last October, Li began to practice at ICC Table Tennis Center on Milpitas Blvd. She trained hard with her team there before winning the championship in Illinois.
“My teammates are such good players,” Li said.
Earlier this year, Li was Open Single Champion at the Fremont Butterfly tournament. She is also signed up to compete in a few international tournaments over the next few months.
“I want to keep playing table tennis until I can’t physically play anymore. Because I love her so much,” Li shared.
In addition to playing table tennis almost every day (she only takes 2-3 days off per month), Li also teaches the sport to children at the ICC Table Tennis Center summer camp.
During this time, she misses her family in China dearly and thinks of her often. But she is driven every day by her love of sport and the excitement of competition.
“I want to encourage young people to start playing table tennis,” Li said. “It’s good for you physically and mentally. It makes you stronger.