A Fierce Contender, Yip Sets Sights on WVC Title

By Richard Finn | May 01, 2018, 9:42 a.m. (ET)

Lily Yip Olympian World Veteran Championships 2018 Las Vegas

In her Hall of Fame career Lily Yip has done pretty much everything that is possible.

She is a two-time U.S. Olympian in 1992 and ’96 playing both singles and doubles. In three Pan American Games appearances, Yip won two gold medals and four silver medals. Yip is a four-time U.S. National women’s singles runner-up and four-time national doubles champion (1992-95).

With son Adam Hugh, she is the 2005 national mixed doubles champion and with daughter Judy, Yip won the 2006 U.S. Open women’s doubles crown.

She is an acclaimed coach being named USATT National Coach of the Year four times and is the director of her namesake table tennis academy in New Jersey.

So as she turns 55 this August what is motivating her to get back to serious training?

It is her first appearance at the 19th World Veterans Championships (WVC) in Las Vegas June 18-24 where she will be one of the headliners in the field of more than 4,000 players in the world’s largest tournament. Players from 91 countries are expected to gather at the Las Vegan Convention Center for this biennial event.

“My goal is definitely to be the champion,” said Yip, who will be playing singles and doubles with Yelena Helen Raykel in the 55 and over division.

“When I was 17 I beat the world number 2 in China and played against many top professional players. Maybe now I have a chance again in my later life to beat some of those players again. It's a big opportunity to become a world champion, maybe I lost to some top world players before, but I can have a chance now to have the last laugh,” she said with a chuckle.

Yip is embracing the unique nature of the tournament that is open to any player age 40 and over while at the same time attracting some of the world’s top seniors like her. Some of those players will include former teammates of Yip, who was the leader of the Guangdong Province table tennis team in her younger years. Yip says the 2018 WVC will be like a 'reunion' of sorts, and is looking forward to seeing some old friends from around the globe. No doubt they will also be gunning to be champion also.

“I think it's a lifetime experience and I always thought in the past it was more of a social event,” said Yip. “Seeing so many former professional players made me realize that this event is more competitive than I thought."

“I try to train every day even though I'm busy running my club and teaching young kids,” Yip said of her nationally recognized facility in Dunellen, New Jersey. “I also started training at the gym twice a week, so I feel in good shape. I think at this age, being physically stronger can be my big advantage.”

Yip also has another advantage- the home court advantage of playing before a supportive crowd in a very familiar setting.

“I have been in Las Vegas every year with my family since 1991 to compete,” said Yip “I have lots of friends coming with me from my club in New Jersey and also meeting some old friends from China who I haven't seen for a long time. Las Vegas has some special memories for me and I will have some confidence there with my previous successes.”

The sheer size of the tournament combined with the ages of the participants should provide a potpourri of playing techniques that should be a lot of fun to see according to Yip. Indeed, her own pip penhold-playing stroke is not commonly seen anymore admitted Yip.

“My style is not so popular in this era, the short pip penhold is very traditional Chinese style to play,” said Yip. “There are also other styles in table tennis that are not so common anymore, now many players are playing same just attack both sides. I think the world veterans will have a lot of character and a lot of entertainment for anyone spectating and some good style matchups.”

In a career of highlights, her two Olympic appearances stand out said Yip. With Tokyo 2020 not that far off in the distance, Yip offered some guidance to aspiring Olympians.

“Olympics is a lifetime dream,” said Yip “Players should begin long-term training and planning in advance to have the best chance to make the team and qualify, it can be years of planning, sometimes from last Olympics over 4 years, sometimes even more. I think just working harder than those around you and your competition to be your best.”