(CNN) -- Kezai started receiving professional tennis coaching at the age of eight. Since then his father has worked hard to cover his training costs.
Two years on and it all seems to have paid off. In June, a local Chengdu company reached out to Li Chengpeng, Kezai's father, with an offer to sponsor Kezai.
Soon after, a professional photographer took pictures of Kezai and his father for advertisements. But the family's happiness was short lived. The company withdrew the sponsorship.
Though he says he was never given an explanation, Kezai's father believes it was because of his political activity. The company could not be reached for comment.
As a controversial blogger and writer, Li announced his plan to run for office as an independent candidate for China's National People's Congress of Wuhou District, a legislative body at the local level in Sichuan province.
"You never know the benefit of standing up if you always stay on your knees," Li declared in a campaign statement on his microblog, where he has more than three million regular followers.
Through the power of social media, Li's original message was forwarded more than 3,000 times within a few hours on micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, a popular twitter-like service.
But such campaigns are rare in China.
The Chinese do not choose their own president or premier because all government officials are pre-decided.
However, elections are held on the local level, with all candidates approved by the party beforehand.
China's electoral law stipulates that every Chinese citizen over 18 has the right to vote and run in local elections. Those, like Li Chengpeng, seeking to become candidates for county or township legislatures must first register and secure confirmation of their candidacy. They must then be nominated as "deputy candidate" by political parties, social organizations or have the signed support of at least 10 registered voters in their constituency.
In practice, the government can rule candidates or any of their supporters unqualified and refuse to put them on the ballot, which critics say leaves ample opportunity for manipulation of the results.
"I know nobody on the ballot sheet. And I don't think my vote will make much difference," a retiree in Beijing said when she was asked to vote for the People's Congress district's last election.
In recent months, an unprecedented number of Chinese citizens have declared themselves as independent candidates, according to Li Fan, founder of the World and China Institute that promotes democracy at the local levels.
He said many candidates have grievances with the local government and feel they cannot get their voices out.
"They bid for the position as they think they can draw attention from the public for better solving of the problem," he said.
"Some local governments did think that their leadership was threatened by these (independent candidates), which is obviously not the case." Li Fan said.
Some believe there are concerns among the central government as well. On June 8, state-run media Xinhua quoted the head of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee as saying that "there is no such a thing as an 'independent candidate' as it's not recognized by law." All candidates must follow the guidelines laid out by the government.
But some do manage to meet the guidelines and run under the banner of an independent. The history of China's independent candidates dates back to 1998, when Yao Lifa, a teacher in Hubei Province, became the first self-described independent candidate elected to the local congress. He lost out when attempting a bid for a second term in 2003.
With the government in control of the media and potential candidates subject to government approval, many question whether a truly independent candidate can win. Li Fan says more than 100 people -- many using the internet -- have declared themselves as candidates for upcoming elections for people's congresses across the country.
"There are no fair and free elections in China," said Li Fan. "Chances are not good for these people leading the wave, but with their appeals, a lot more people will stand out to join in the election. They are the future."
No matter what the chances are for Li Chengpeng, he says he is determined. "In China, there is so much unfairness and many choices in life are decided by the others," he explained during an interview with CNN. "I want to make decisions on my own."
To achieve his goal, Li Chengpeng has visited more than 100 residents in his constituency, listening to their appeals to work out his campaign plan, trying to secure the government-required support from 10 registered voters. He also continues to speak out on his blog.
Li Chengpeng is not sure whether his name will appear on the ballot in September, when the election process officially begins, but he tries to be optimistic. "I'm confident. If I'm not confident, how can I convince my supporters?" he said.
Li Chengpeng is not so confident about securing another tennis sponsorship for his son, if his political activities indeed caused him to lose the first one. He says he plans to fight on as an independent -- and he has his son's support.
Visqi He contributed to this report.