How Emma Raducanu's story is inspiring two budding table tennis stars


Amber Lemmon at the national Table Tennis Championship in July

The 18-year-old made history on Saturday (September 11) after she lifted the US Open Trophy after a straight sets win over Leylah Fernandez.

Her sensational journey has been inspiring people all over the world - with tennis academies around the country seeing a sharp rise in enquiries. 

City of Peterborough Tennis Club based in Bretton has also seen an increase in interest from young girls who want to take up the sport after Raducanu’s big win. 

The current British number one was born to a Romanian father and Chinese mother in Toronto and moved to the UK aged two. 

Members of Peterborough’s Chinese community have sent congratulatory messages to the teenager and said they hope her journey motivates young people from their community to strive for the best and work harder. They say they are “immensely proud” of Raducanu’s achievements and wish her many more. 

Hampton resident Shu Luan originates from Shenyang, in north-east China - the same place as Raducanu’s mum Renee - and says she is “honoured” to be sharing her heritage with the tennis star. 

Her eight-year-old daughter Amber Lemmon is a budding table tennis star and trains six days a week after school at the Archway Table Tennis Academy on Lincoln Road. 

Shu Luan hopes Emma’s story will make her daughter more hard-working and focused. 

She said: “ I did not watch the match but I have been following her story. My family is from the same place in China – Shenyang.  

“Emma is a regular visitor to the city to see her grandmother, and she has practiced tennis at the Shenyang Institute over the years. To improve her hand – eye co-ordination she practices table tennis as well.  

“We are so proud of her. What a talent. 

“My daughter who is eight now aspires to be a professional table tennis player. Amber is very good - She went to the national championship in Warwick University in July and came second in the under 10 categories.  She has an amazing coach.

"I am using Emma as a role model for her to be inspired and work hard. 

“She trains six days a week after school so it’s hard work but if you are focused and put your mind to it- you will succeed. 

“As long as she enjoys it, we will be supporting her."

Amber Lemmon, a student at Hampton Hargate Primary School also plays the piano, enjoys swimming and basketball in her spare time. Her dream is to represent Team GB at the Olympics in table tennis.

Speaking to Peterborough Matters, she said: "I want to go to the Olympics to represent England.

"I want to be like Emma when I grow up. I want to believe if she can do it I can too and I know she plays ping-pong too as part of her training.

"Also, she can speak Chinese and I can speak Chinese and my mummy is from the same place as her mummy- so this makes me very happy and proud of her."

Faustina Yang a self-employed HR consultant and also leader of the city's Chinese Community is another proud mother whose nine-year-old daughter Ilia is an aspiring table tennis player too. 

Ilia also from Hampton, goes to the same table tennis academy on Lincoln Road.

Faustina said every young person will be looking up to Emma and that she feels 'honoured" to be even talking about her.

She said: “Somebody said 'oh everybody is trying to claim Emma as their own,' but I would say everyone is proud of her and feel honoured to be sharing her multi-cultural heritage. 

"She comes across as being so grounded, hard working. It is a combination of hard work from her, her parents, coaches and everything that brought her to her success.

“Her parents and her culture and upbringing had a big part to play in her journey. In the mandarin speech, Emma said she learnt resilience and hard-work from her mum. I can relate to that as a Chinese mum. 

“We as a community are proud of how Emma is such a great example of being an all-rounder- such an amazing student while exceeding in tennis too. 

“I spoke to my daughter Ilia about Emma’s story. She plays table tennis and practices five days a week. 

“So, I told her to look at Emma as a role model - I am sure a lot of parents will be giving the same advice.  

“We as a community feel proud and honoured to be sharing our heritage with this teenage star.  Her personality seems so lovely too.  

“Her parents support, determination and her hard work has got her where she is today and that’s what I am telling my daughter. She needs to follow this advice and stay focused if she wants to succeed.”

"I can positively say Emma's story has really given a lot of people new motivation in life.

"Ilia is working hard to improve every day. The children have an amazing coach."

Nine-year-old Ilia enjoys table tennis and hopes to win some competitions over the coming years. During the lockdown, she continued  her practice via zoom.

She  said: “Emma is an inspiration, not only winning competitions but also doing well at school as she works very hard. Whichever school she goes to, it must be famous, the must be so proud of her."