- Language Tips
While the world's best teens surged through the Australian Open junior draws, China's young players were well in the shadows of their young counterparts. The gap, however, is narrowing.
Sixteen-year-old Sun Ziyue is the last remaining Chinese of six in the juniors (girls doubles). Her singles campaign ended in the third round, but she is confident she will be on level footing with the world's best soon.
"(The western juniors) are actually not as tough as I expected," Sun told China Daily after her second-round victory.
"I was sort of shocked by the Grand Slam atmosphere and felt very nervous in my first match. But I found it's not hard to beat them after acclimating to the environment."
Sun, (pictured) who has reached the girls doubles semifinals with partner Kamonwan Buayam of Thailand, represents China's traditional developmental methods - unlike solo-flying Xu Shilin.
After picking up a racket for the first time at the age of 4, Sun began full-time training at a local tennis academy in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 2008 before joining her native Jiangsu provincial team, where she trained with another seven girls under two coaches.
"I think it is better to have the support of the Chinese system because normal families can't afford the expense of supporting an individual," she said. "You can't make a living playing tennis if you are outside of the top 200. And we can't play as many events as we need to earn points without support."
Still, Sun expects more foreign expertise to be imported after a one-month visit to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.
"I saw many programs that I had never seen before and I learned the strength of foreign juniors during that trip," said Sun, who will play against the No 6 pair of Oleksandra Korashvili and Barbora Krejcikova on Thursday.
(China Daily 01/24/2013 page23)