Crystal Wang Interview

By Rahul Acharya | April 19, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

This past weekend has been a real treat. I've been fortunate to meet with, talk to, and watch some amazing table tennis talent at the Grand Final of the 2014 North American Tour held at Westchester Table Tennis Center, Pleasantville, NY. In the future weeks, I'll publish interviews with some of the tour participants. Ladies first ... so first up is Crystal Wang from Boyds, MD. At the age of 12, Crystal has racked up an incredible list of accomplishments. In fact, she secured many records in 2014, including the youngest-ever player to make the USA National Team and the youngest-ever player to reach the women's or men's singles final at the USA National Table Tennis Championships.

On Saturday, Crystal, the only female player in the tour, showcased her table tennis skills and tough mental game against Zirui Zhao of Livingston, NJ. In the biggest upset of the tournament, Crystal, rated 250 points below Zirui, beat him 3-2 in the round robin stage. 

I hope you enjoy getting to know Crystal Wang!

Quick facts about Crystal Wang:
Highest rating 2440 (currently at highest rating)
#2 in USA for Under 18 Girls
2015 U.S. National Junior & Cadet Girls Team Member
2014 U.S. National and Worlds Women's Team (at the age of 12)
Sponsored by Butterfly

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1. Tell us how you got started with table tennis.
I grew up in China with my grandparents and they really liked the sport. There was a small community center in our neighborhood and my grandparents would play there a few times a week so they thought that I should try. I started taking a 30 minutes lesson once a week and when I moved back to America at the age of 5, I added more lessons.

2. What equipment do you use?
Blade: Mizutani Jan
Forehand rubber: Tenergy 05
Backhand rubber: Tenergy 64

3. How often do you play and train?
I train 2-3 hours a day, 7 days a week.

4. There aren't many other female players of your level at Maryland Table Tennis Center. Is that a problem in terms of practicing for gender-based events? If so, how do you make up for it?
Yes, there is a problem in terms of practicing for gender-based events because the playing style for girls and boys is quite different. To make up for it, I just train harder with my coaches.

5. What is the most memorable match that you have ever played? Why? 
The most memorable match I played was the third match (vs. Miyu Maeda of Japan) for the Girls' Team event at the 2014 World Junior Championships because I helped USA get its first medal at a World Championships event.

6. You have played in many countries. Where did you enjoy playing the most? Why?
I enjoyed playing in Shanghai, China during the 2014 World Junior Championships the most because the venue and training halls were very nice. There was a wide variety of delicious food and the hotel that we stayed at was really fancy.

7. Name one person that has had the greatest impact on your game. How?
My dad has had the greatest impact on my game because he was the one who always taught me how to improve my technique and make my shots more powerful. During practice, he would always remind me of the techniques that needed improvement and would tell me how to fix them. He always gives me support when I need it.

8. You have won so many honors at such a young age, including being the youngest player ever to make the U.S. National team. I'm sure people have high expectations of you. Does that put additional pressure on you? If so, how do you deal with it?
It does put a little more pressure on me because people want me to achieve more every year. To deal with it, I try not to think too much about it and try to focus on doing my best and improving my technique.

9. What are your short-term and long-term goals with regards to table tennis?
My short-term goal is to make the 2015 U.S. Women's National Team, secure first place at the Pan Am Games so I can qualify to play in the 2016 Olympics, and to be the 2015 U.S. Women's National Champion. The intermediate goal is to make the North American Olympic Team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and my long-term goal is to win medals in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Now on to some off-topic questions ...

10. What do you like to do when you are not playing table tennis?
When I'm not playing table tennis, I like reading or watching Korean drama and variety shows.

11. Your favorites:
Book: Splintered
Movie: Catching Fire
Song: I don't have a favorite
Color: Blue
Food: Pizza
Subject in school: Math

12. If you had to pick an animal that best describes your personality, which one would it be and why?
The dolphin best describes my personality because it is kind and helpful and also, has a good memory.

13. What professional career would you like to pursue?
I want to be a doctor or an engineer when I grow up.

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Crystal, thanks for your time and good luck with the upcoming Pan Am, National, & World Women's Team Trials!


Crystal Wang (2015 U.S. National Junior & Cadet Girls Team Member)
Photo: Glen Randmer

With Crystal Wang at the Grand Finals of the 2014 North American Tour