Hong Kong's Lee Ho-ching receives boost in world table tennis rankings
Hong Kong youngster Lee Ho-ching hopes her surge up the world rankings benefits her in the world championships in Paris this month.
In the rankings released on Wednesday, the 20-year-old shot up to a career-high 37 from 58.
"A better world ranking will give me easier draws in the opening stages and help me avoid meeting the top players too early," said Lee. "Also, it can act as a strong confidence boost."
Lee was eliminated in the round of 64 on her world championships debut in Rotterdam two years ago, but believes she can do better this time.
"I am now a much more mature player, especially after the baptism of the London Olympic Games last summer," she said. "My target is to reach the quarterfinals in Paris and hopefully a medal in the doubles."
Lee's record ranking came after her impressive performance in the recent Korea Open, when she lost to eventual champion Seo Hyo-won in the semi-finals.
Coach Li Huifen, who will lead the women's team for the last time, is also upbeat about Lee's chances. "She has been making good progress and can challenge players with a higher ranking," said Li, who returns to the mainland next month, having coached in Hong Kong since 2002.
"Her combination with Jiang Huajun in the doubles is one of our major hopes," Li added.
The duo have been working together for more than a year. They won gold in last year's China Open and bronze in the year-end Grand Prix finals.
Hong Kong will send a squad of six men and six women for the biennial tournament, to be held from May 13 to 20. Veteran Tie Yana, who won bronze with Jiang in Rotterdam two years ago, will miss the event due to pregnancy.
Hong Kong's most successful player in recent years, Tie will also miss September's National Games and East Asian Games, ahead of her December due date.
"She will definitely continue her career afterwards," said her husband Tang Peng, a member of the men's team. "She has yet to realise her dream of winning an Olympic medal, so why quit?"