Yue "Jennifer" Wu Interview

By Rahul Acharya | Aug. 04, 2015, 12 a.m. (ET)

Jennifer Yue Wu (NJ, USA)

Born in Beijing, China, 25 year old Jennifer Yue Wu had no idea that one day she would become an Olympian. When she was about eight, her family was told that she did not have great eyesight. At the suggestion of a co-worker, Jennifer's mother introduced her to table tennis. Not only did Jennifer avoid glasses, but she became a highly accomplished table tennis player. In just five years, she became a part of the very selective Beijing Provincial Team.

In 2008, Jennifer's desire to see the world brought her to the U.S. She immediately fell in love with the country and made it her new home. In 2014, she became a U.S. citizen. It is no small feat that within a year of becoming an American, Jennifer is now a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. I travelled to SPiN - New York to meet Jennifer and ask her a few questions. I hope you enjoy getting to know her!

Quick facts about Jennifer Yue Wu:
Highest USATT rating 2626
#9 in USA for Women
2016 U.S. Olympic Team Member
2015 U.S. Pan Am Team Member - Gold Medal for Women's Singles and Team event
2011 U.S. Open - Under 21 Champion
Former Beijing Provincial Team Member (2003 - 2008)
Sponsored by Joola

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Yue Wu at the 2015 Pan Am Games, Toronto
Photo: ITTF
With Jennifer Yue Wu at SPiN - New York

1. Congratulations on winning gold at the recent Pan Am Games and making it to the 2016 U.S. Women's Olympic Team! Your picture after the qualification says it all, but can you describe how you felt?
After the last ball, I felt like I had done it! My dream had come true!

2. Did you have any expectations going in to the Pan Am Games? Did you ever imagine finishing with the gold medal?
Before the Pan Am Games, I thought we had a good chance to win the Team event. However, I tried not to think about the results too much. I just focused on playing to the best of my ability.

3. Did you do any special preparation for the event? If so, tell us about that.
Prior to the tournament, I went to Beijing to train for about one and a half months. I trained for about 4 hours a day, including 1 hour of physical training. I also thought about mistakes that I had made in the past so that I don't repeat them. For example, at the recent U.S. Open, I was up 1-0, 9-3 against my good friend, Wang Bo. However, I did not win that crucial second game because I did not call timeout at the right time. Ultimately, I lost the whole match. I think that if I had called timeout in the second game at maybe 9-5, I would have won the game and the end result may have been different.

4. Tell us about how you started with table tennis.
When I was a child, my eyes weren't good. My mom's co-worker told her that ping pong would help. That's how I started playing at the age of 8.

5. What equipment do you currently use?
Blade: Joola Falcon Fast
Forehand rubber: MAXXX 500 (50 degree hardness)
Backhand rubber: MAXXX-P (42.5 degree hardness)

6. How often do you currently play and train? 
When I'm in the U.S., I practice 3 - 4 days a week. However, before important tournaments I usually go to China or Taiwan to train.

7. What are your short-term and long-term goals with regards to table tennis?
My short-term goal is to train even harder and get ready for the end of the year U.S. National Championships. It will be my very first Nationals and I really want to do well. In the long-term, I'm very excited about the Olympics and I hope to do my best.

8. What has been your most memorable match so far?
I think it was in 2008 and I had just moved to the U.S. At the North American Teams in Baltimore, I beat He Zhiwen. At that time, he was top 50 for Men in the world. I beat him 3-2. That match was incredible!

9. Who is your favorite international table tennis player? Why?
My favorite player is two-time Olympic gold medalist, Zhang Yining. She is a really nice person and is very friendly.

10. If you could go back in time and get a "do-over" for any one match from any tournament that you have ever played, which one would that be? Why?
It would have to be the match against South Korea's Yang Haeun (world #20) in the Suzhou Open. I was up 3-1 at one time. In the 7th game, I was up 10-5, but I still lost because I became too anxious. I really had the chance, but I didn't capitalize on it. If I could go back, I would stay calmer.

11. Imagine that you are fighting for the gold at the upcoming 2016 Olympics. If you could get anyone in the world, from the past or the present, to coach you for that match, who would it be? Why? 
That's a really hard question. I would choose Doru Gheorghe. He is a really good coach and we have good chemistry. At the Pan Am Games, he was able to tell me exactly what I needed to do in each match.

12. Couple of rapid fire questions:
Talent or hardwork? Hardwork
Best chance to win - player with skills or player with confidence? Both 
21 point games or 11 point games? 11 point games
Poly ball or celluloid ball? Poly ball
More drills or more matches? More matches
More practice matches or more tournaments? More tournaments
Coed or gender-specific table tennis? Co-ed table tennis
To cho, or not to cho? To cho

13. What you like to do when you are not playing table tennis?
Hangout with my friends and do some physical training.

14. Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank Coach Doru, my personal coaches, Kaixuan Ma, Santos Shih, and Vivian Sun, and also Fadi Kaddoura, for their support.


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Once again, congratulations on making the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and good luck with rest of the year, especially in Rio! Go Team USA!