China has no shortage of emerging talents in the ping pong world, with the seniors passing on the country's sport of choice to their children. Among these emerging talents is one Kuai Man, who by 19 was a prominent figure in the world's top 30 global rankings. Her history indicates that she chose the sport much earlier than most, and considering her achievements so far, the sport also seems to have chosen her.
Here's a bit of history on the 2004-born Chinese national who keeps making waves on a global scale at such a young age.
Kuai Man is a professional tennis ball player born in Sheyang County, Jiangsu province, on February 7, 2004. In a community tradition, her parents let her choose her future profession when she was just a year old. They did this by placing an assortment of gift choices before her and seeing which one she would pick. Given that she plays ping pong professionally, it's no surprise that she picked a paddle and ball, the future tools of her trade.
Kuai Man started her professional career in 2017 when she was 13. She first competed at the China Junior and Cadet Open, where she became a finalist in the singles category. Later that year, she participated in the Asian Youth Table Tennis Championship held in Asan, South Korea. She clinched the cadet team title with her teammates but lost to Huang Yingqi in the singles semifinals.
In the next year, Kuai Man participated in the Oman Junior and Cadet Open-2018, where she again won in the cadet team category. As for the singles, she managed to take home a silver medal. Around June of the same year, Kuai Man and two other athletes were chosen for the second national team. She won the cadet women's singles and team categories at the China Junior and Cadet Open 2018 tournament. For her second gold medal, Kuai Man defeated Chen Yi 4-0 in the Women's Singles Cadet Final
Kuai Man made her senior debut in 2019 at the ITTF Challenge Plus, Portugal Open, where she competed in the senior singles and under 21 divisions. This was a defining moment for her career, where she reached the 1/8 finals in a segment where the gold eventually went to Japan's Hina Hayata.
Later, Kuai Man won the women's team and doubles among cadets at the TTF Junior Circuit Premium, Italian Junior, and Cadet Open-2019 and took home a silver medal in the singles category.
During the same year, she participated in the Asian Youth Championship in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and won the team category. She also participated in the Junior World Championships in Korat, Thailand, for the first time, winning the team title, women's doubles silver medal with Shi Xunyao, and mixed doubles bronze with Xiang Peng. This performance was quite impressive for a first-timer.
In 2020 Kuai Man did not participate in many tournaments, only appearing at the 2020 China National Junior Table Tennis Championships and the Chinese National Championships. In the former, she won the women's singles and mixed doubles titles; in the latter, she emerged third.
In September 2021, Kuai Man participated in the 14th National Games, where she lost 1: 3 to Sichuan in the quarterfinals and was left out of the semifinals. She redeemed herself at the National Games, playing with Shi Xunyao in the women's doubles and defeating Sun Yingsha and Sun Mingyang of Hebei 3:0. This time, she came third in the competition and took home a bronze medal. In December, Kuai Man and Xiang Peng participated in the World Youth Championships in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. Unfortunately, they lost 3:2 to Shinozuka and Miyu Kihara in the women's singles category. Striving to redeem herself, Kuai defeated Miyu Kihara of Japan by a score of 4:3 to win the World Junior Singles championship for the first time.
Kuai Man continued with the winning streak in 2022. She became the gold medalist in the women's doubles and singles at the WTT Macao 2021. In June, she won the bronze medal in the women's doubles competition at the WTT Contender Zagreb-2022 tournament and a gold medal at the WTT Contender Zagreb-2022 tournament.
Despite being left-handed, Kuai Man's playstyle resembles a shakehand attacker, generally preferring to stay close to the table and looking to end things quickly. She has a strong counter-drive with her backhand but will try to finish the opponent off quickly with a forehand kill across the table. This style helps her to put pressure on her opponent, increasing her chances of winning.
She will also typically serve from the right corner, which makes sense, given that she uses her left hand. However, this can sometimes leave her open to a counter on the left corner which means she has to get her serve spot on to limit the chances of that happening.
Honors and Achievements
Kuai Man has achieved several things in her career. She has won many medals at the Asian and World Youth Championships. During the Youth World Championship-2022, she won a gold medal in the women's team and mixed doubles. She also bagged a bronze medal in singles.
Another major achievement in Kuai Man's career is winning China's National Championships six times. She's also a two-time silver medalist in the women's doubles and team events, with a single mixed doubles bronze in the National tournament.
Kuai Man's ranking history is quite impressive to look at. By age 15, she was a regular in the world's top 500. From there, it took her only three years to break into the top 50. This was in May 2022 when she jumped a whopping 69 places from 102nd to position 33 globally.
By 2023 she had made it into the top 30 severally with a career-high 22nd place ranking in April of the same year.
Kuai Man is one of the best-emerging talents in the ping-pong world. By 19, she had performed so well on the world stage that she was a prominent figure in the world's top 30. As for whether she will reach the world number 1 spot, only time will tell. In the meantime, she makes for an exciting prospect and shows promise in a country where competition in table tennis is quite stiff.