Hanwei Wang - Interview

By Rahul Acharya | April 05, 2016, 12 a.m. (ET)

Hanwei Wang (NY, USA)

15-year old Hanwei Wang followed his friend and ex-teammate Kai Zhang's footsteps when he relocated to the U.S. from Beijing last February in pursuit of the Olympic dream. Luckily for Hanwei, Westchester TTC's member David Hill opened up his heart and his home. Hanwei now lives with David and his family and attends high school in Pleasantville, NY.

A lefty two-winged looper with deceptive serves and fast feet, Hanwei has been a great addition to the club. When not in school, Hanwei can be seen practicing hard with Kai, as well as learning new skills such as English, riding a bicycle, snowboarding, etc. 

I caught up with Hanwei to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!

Quick facts about Hanwei Wang:
Highest rating 2565
Ranked #7 in the state of New York (all ages)
Top 25 in the U.S. - Junior Boys (18 and under)
Former member of Beijing Provincial Team (2010 - 2015)

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Hanwei Wang (Former Beijing Provincial Team Member)
Photo: Glen Randmer


With Hanwei Wang at Westchester TTC

1. Tell us how you got started with table tennis. 
My dad and I watched table tennis at a club in Beijing and I got interested. So I started playing with my dad.

2. What equipment do you currently use?
Blade: Butterfly Viscaria
Forehand rubber: DHS Hurricane
Backhand rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 64

3. How often do you currently train and for how long? 
I train 2 or 3 times a week for an hour with Kai Zhang. I also play matches a few times a week.

4. You are ambidextrous; you play very well both lefty and righty. Tell us about how you developed this skill. 
I am comfortable with both hands because when I was 6 years old my coach had me start playing right handed and I played that way for over two years before I switched to playing lefty. (Writer's note: Hanwei's rating is 2550+ lefty and close to 2000 righty)

5. What are your goals with regards to table tennis?
In the short-term, I would like to improve all aspects of my backhand - loop, block, offense, etc. My long-term goal is to represent the United States in the Olympics someday.

6. Tell us about the most memorable match that you have played in the U.S.
It would have to be the quarterfinals against Polish player Filip Szymanski at the 2015 Westchester June Open. I lost to him 9-11 in the 5th and felt that I should have won so I can't forget that match. Also, I was honored to play Jean-Michel Saive, a former world champion, at the 2015 Hyson Chicago Table Tennis Open in the Quarterfinals. 

7. Is there one person who you can give most credit for helping your table tennis career?
I am grateful to Will Shortz and Kai Zhang for giving me the opportunity to explore table tennis in the U.S.

8. How is table tennis training different in the U.S. compared to China? Which style do you prefer and why?
In China, we work very hard on short balls. I prefer training in China because it is much more serious so one can improve quicker.

9. Did you face any particular challenge as a rising table tennis player, and how did you overcome that?
I did not face any particular challenge with table tennis in China. Honestly, it is more challenging here with school work and therefore, having less time for practice. 

10. Who is your all-time favorite table tennis player? Why?
Jike Zhang. I admire his character. He is never nervous and very strong when the game is 10-10.

Now on to some off-topic questions ...

11. What do you like most about living in the U.S.?
I like school because I like to learn, and I have good friends in school. School here is very different compared to China; the school day is shorter and there is much less homework. I also like the weather here. Every day is a beautiful day!

12. Do you like to watch or play any other sports?
I like to play badminton, soccer, and volleyball. I don't watch sports. I also like to read books about Chinese history and listen to music in my free time.

13. Favorites:
Food: Chicken
TV Show: A Japanese anime show about Greek gods and another show about Chinese History
Song (Chinese): Duo Qing De Ren Zong Bei Wu Qíng De Shang
Song (American): Glad you Came, Rolling in the Deep, Try
Experience in the U.S. so far: Halloween

14. Would you like to share any surprising fact about you that many people who know are not aware of?
I have a good memory and know a lot about Chinese history.

15. Anything else that you would like to add?
I would like to thank Will, David, you, and all the people at the club who have and continue to help me.


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Hanwei, thanks for your time!