Has Li Na’s success trickled down yet?
Not as much as some young players who took part in the China Tennis Grand Prix last week expected. 
Duan Yingying, who won the women’s singles title at the Sanya event, said Li’s success hasn’t yet rubbed off.
"So far, we haven’t felt any big changes (to the cultivation of the sport at the lower levels)," the 23-year-old Tianjin native told China Daily.
"The investment and logistic support have always been good for the Tianjin municipal team. But we are not there yet, so we can’t be compared with their level of professionalism."
Duan’s fellow Tianjin native Wang Qiang – who jumped to world No 183 (from No 270 last year) with two ITF titles this year – echoed Duan.
"Li’s win at Roland Garros was inspiring, but the impact didn’t hit us. Not many sponsors paid attention to us due to our relatively low rankings," the 22-year-old said.
However, the rise of Li, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai on the WTA stage after they left the State-run system following the 2008 Beijing Olympics has inspired some young players to reconsider their paths.
Unlike players who quit school to train full time in local sports bureau systems at early ages, Wang chose the western way. She hired a personal coach who instructed her and continued with school.
Wang said that route offered her more freedom and customized development, but admitted it was a heavy economic burden for her family.
"My parents chose that road for me when I started playing at 9," she said. "They thought that’s what professional tennis was supposed to be, but it was tough for them to make money to support my training and travel, especially at the beginning."
Wang has done her part to ease the pressure, earning almost $40,000 in prize money playing in ITF and lower-level WTA tournaments this year.
But there’s more to consider when eschewing the State-run system.
Without official backing, Wang usually misses out on local premier events’ wild cards, which are mostly distributed to players registered in the system.
"When I was young, I was kind upset because it’s unfair," she said. "But now, I can let it go as performance speaks in tennis. I believe I can earn my way myself."
Wang said her way isn’t for everybody though.
Duan agreed.
"No, I haven’t ever thought about it," Duan said. "We have a three-trainer crew taking care of four or five players on the Tianjin team. I believe this is the best model for us to use at this point."
SOURCE: China Daily
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