Table tennis: Feng to lead T2 Apac field

Singapore's world No. 5 Feng Tianwei is the biggest name so far to confirm her participation in the inaugural season of the T2 Asia-Pacific table tennis league.
Singapore's world No. 5 Feng Tianwei is the biggest name so far to confirm her participation in the inaugural season of the T2 Asia-Pacific table tennis league.PHOTO: POWER SPORT IMAGES

World No. 5 hails league as 'what the Asia-Pacific region needs'

Singapore's Feng Tianwei has given the thumbs up to the T2 Asia-Pacific (T2 Apac) table tennis league which takes off later this year.

In the first player list released by the league yesterday, three-time Olympic medallist Feng, at world No. 5, is the highest-ranked player pencilled in.

The competition, which carries a prize purse of more than US$1.5 million (S$2.15 million), is expected to field a line-up of 24 players. It will run from July to December in Hong Kong.

The competition will feature a unique scoring system and a 24-minute time limit for each match. Players will compete in the men's, women's and mixed-team events.

Feng, who is in China, told The Straits Times (ST): "I'm excited to sign on with the T2 Apac and I'm looking forward to the start of the season. This league is exactly what we need in the Asia-Pacific region as there are no other professional leagues other than in China (the China Table Tennis Super League).

"The fresh format and player line-up should make it an interesting competition."

She will be joined by Chinese Taipei's world No. 6 Cheng I-ching, 13th-ranked South Korean Jeon Ji Hee, reigning SEA Games women's singles gold medallist Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand, 2015 European singles champion Elizabeta Samara of Romania and reigning mixed doubles world champion Yang Ha Eun of South Korea.

The men's list is led by world No. 8 Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, who is also T2 Apac's director of player operations.

The 40-year-old told ST: "There has been a lot of interest from all the players we have spoken to about this project. I'm really happy with the quality of the players who have confirmed their participation so far and I am confident that there will be more to come soon."

Other notable male paddlers include former world No. 5 Joo Sae Hyuk of South Korea, England's Paul Drinkhall, a mixed doubles gold medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and former junior world champion Chen Chien-an of Chinese Taipei. A total of 13 players have been named thus far but no players from powerhouses like China and Japan have signed up yet.

A T2 Apac spokesman said: "Discussions are ongoing with various top players from all over the world, including China and Japan. There are definitely plans to include top Chinese and Japanese players in the inaugural season of the league.

"We will unveil the names of the remaining players once they are confirmed in the coming weeks."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Feng to lead T2 Apac field'. Print Edition | Subscribe