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Home » Table Tennis » The playlist that helps table tennis star Lily Zhang get match-ready – ESPN

The playlist that helps table tennis star Lily Zhang get match-ready – ESPN

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie | Apr 22, 2019
Special to

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

At age 12, Lily Zhang was the youngest player ever to make the U.S. women’s national table tennis team. Since then, she has become a four-time national champion and two-time Olympian, in 2012 and 2016. In March, Zhang, now 22, qualified for her third Pan American Games (held this summer in Lima, Peru) by winning the trials.

We talked to Zhang about the music that gets her into the right headspace for such a focus-driven sport. “Whether I need to relax and unwind after a long training session or pump myself up for competition, music has a way of getting me where I need to go,” she said. “But the songs that really stick with me are the ones that I can connect with on a deeper-than-surface level or that are associated with a meaningful experience or time in my life.”

One recent favorite is “Messages from Her” by Sabrina Claudio. “I love the message it sends,” Zhang said. “When times get hard, it helps me keep things in perspective and brings me back to a simpler and more peaceful time. I especially love the lyrics, ‘That girl inside me stays. If I’m not here for me, she will be there.’ It’s easy to lose sight of why we do the things we do, and these lyrics remind me why I started to pursue [table tennis]. It allows me to rekindle my inner motivations and passions.”

When she wants to get pumped up, it’s all about Eminem. “‘Lose Yourself’ is an absolute classic,” Zhang said. “I listened to it during the 2012 North American Olympic Team Trials, and it gave me the energy and motivation to make it through one of the most intense and toughest matches of my life. Since then, it’s been my go-to before any important match and helps me visualize what I need to do at the table.”

Here’s what else is on her playlist:

Get more athlete playlists

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