Tue, 05 Dec 2023

HANGZHOU, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- China's national anthem was played twice on the Hangzhou Asian Games tennis court, for young stars Zheng Qinwen and Zhang Zhizhen respectively.

"The national flag on our shirts means a lot," said 20-year-old sensation Zheng, who triumphed at her first Asiad in the women's singles on Friday.

"We tennis players compete in Grand Slams or other tournaments around the world every year, only with a few opportunities to actually represent our own country in international events," the US Open quarterfinalist noted.

The Hangzhou Asiad coincide with China's Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays which last from September 29 to October 6. Although players are not able to enjoy the holidays, they can see more spectators rooting for them on spot.

"Sincere thanks for the crowd supporting us all the time. We really cherish the journey here," Zheng said after defeating compatriot Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4 in the final to seize the women's singles gold.

The 29-year-old Zhu was in tears during the award ceremony, but not for the loss.

"People who know me may not be surprised. I am a somewhat emotional person, sincerely moved by the cheers for us at that moment," Zhu explained.

The Mid-Autumn Festival carries people's good wishes for reunion, harmony and a better life, while the National Day holiday arouses patriotism. All the feelings and emotions converged in the venue and touched China's athletes who play tournaments overseas most of the time.

"Home crowd fully supported us, cheered for us, which feels so different from when we play abroad, so heartwarming," Zhu said. "We secured the gold and silver in advance and staged an excellent final for the audience. I am satisfied with my performance in Hangzhou."

Standing atop the podium, Zhang Zhizhen felt proud and pointed to the word 'CHINA' on the back of his shirt, receiving another round of cheers.

The 26-year-old clinched his first Asiad title with a 6-4, 7-6 (7) victory over Japan's Yosuke Watanuki on Saturday, which also marked the first men's singles gold medal for China at an Asian Games in nearly three decades, after Pan Bing won the event in 1990 and 1994.

Besides his own goal of pursuing new heights, Zhang hopes to see more Chinese children take to the sport of tennis and embark on the professional road, "It's difficult, but worth a shot."

"Chinese tennis will always strive for the better. The next generation of Chinese tennis players will outperform us," Zhang said.

"Some excellent players missed Hangzhou Asian Games. We should continue to train hard and improve ourselves," he added.

As the Asiad champions, Zheng and Zhang obtained the berths to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, while Zhu is still chasing for an Olympic spot.

"Without doubt, we will make our utmost efforts at the Olympic Games for China," Zheng Qinwen said.

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