TABLE TENNIS: `King' Kong arrives

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The Independent Online
England will face the man who is being tipped as the next world champion when they begin their six-match international series against China at Woking tonight. Kong Linghui is only 19 but has already earned the nickname "King" Kong after winning th e Asian championships, the US Open and the Global Youth tournament.

Although Kong is supported by four other fine players, including the China Cup champion, Xiong Ke, and the Asian men's doubles champion, Lin Xhigang, England will hope to do well against the powerful young visiting squad.

The home team's record against the Chinese has been good in recent years and, in three of this series' matches, at Stourbridge, Grantham and Mansfield on 30 December, 1 January and 2 January, the English national champion, Chen Xinhua, will be available to take on his former compatriots.

The Yorkshire-based former World Cup winner from Fukien made a welcome return to form in the match against Germany three weeks ago. However, two former English national champions, Carl Prean and Alan Cooke, and England's best player on recent form, Matthew Syed, will line up for England in the opening match.

England have been forced to make a late change to their squad. Andrew Eden, the England No 6 chosen for three of the games, has a mystery illness that causes loss of strength and swollen fingers. He will be replaced by Alex Perry, 19, who plays in the Swedish League.