Today we focus on the Japanese wonderkid Tomokazu Harimoto who has taken world Table Tennis by storm and is one of the most famous and popular players on the ITTF Tour.
This young superstar was born in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan in 2003 and here are our 10 snippets after some research.
1. Tomokazu’s parents were Chinese and both had successful careers in Table Tennis. In fact, his mother Ling represented China in the World Championships in 1995. His father Yu first visited Japan in 1998, when he was invited to coach in the Sendai Table Tennis Centre.
2. Harimoto started playing Table Tennis when he was only 2 years old! At 3 years 4 months he competed in a Japanese Under 8 Competition and finished 4th!! Then, aged 6, he reached the last 16 of the Japanese National Under 8 Championships and went on to become the youngest ever participant in the Junior Boys Nationals! He later stated that his first Under 8 tournament was a pivotal moment for him, ‘This experience gave me the decisive kick to dedicate myself completely to Table Tennis’
3.The Japanese star is a right handed shake hand grip player and uses a TOMOKAZU HARIMOTO INNERFORCE ALC BLADE, DIGNICS 05 ON F/H SIDE, AND TENERGY 05 ON B/H SIDE.
4. His singles world ranking history is incredible! He broke into the top 200 at aged 12 and then dramatically jumped to # 63 when just turning 13 years old. He broke into the top 10 when still only aged 14 and has a highest ranking of #3, he is currently ranked #4.
5. He became the youngest ever winner (13 years) of an ITTF Singles title when he achieved his first success at the 2017 Czech Open. Then, in 2018 when he amazingly won the Japan Open in front of his adoring home fans! He defeated the current Olympic Champion Ma Long in the ¼ finals and then the 2012 Olympic Champion Zhang Jike in the final. Imagine, at 14 years old, defeating 2 Olympic Champions on the way to winning an ITTF title in his home nation, this must have been an incredibly proud moment for him and his family!
6. In December 2018 he then became the youngest (15 years) ever winner of the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
In the last 16 he defeated Franziska (Germany) 4/1, Jang Woo-Jin (Korea) 4/1 in the ¼ finals, Calderano (Brazil) 4/0 in the Semis before a final 4/1 victory over Lin Gaoyuan (China) who had beaten the #1 seed Xu Xin in the 1/4s.
7. Harimoto is a big ‘Choer’ and always brings incredible energy to his matches. He once said, ‘The desire to win grabs me not only against my peers, but even in matches against much older players’. His mother once stated, ‘Tomokazu loves Tournaments and hates losing. If there is something that distinguishes Tomokazu, it is that he keeps the highest level of concentration in any game, against any opponent, until the very last ball’.
8. Similarly to Ma Long, Harimoto has a loose grip, he then tightens more firmly just before impact and then relaxes again milliseconds afterwards, a very difficult skill to master but very important at the highest level! Unlike many other players, his grip remains the same for F/H and B/H, he does however use his wrist more during topspin play.
9. Amazingly, his 11 year old sister Miwa is creating a similar buzz in the world of Table Tennis. Her recent results in the 2020 Junior ITTF Czech Open were simply breath-taking! She won every event in the Cadet and Junior categories apart from the Junior Girls Doubles in which she lost in the ¼ finals. Her final tally was: Played 30 matches, won 29, lost 1, played 105 sets, won 94 and lost only 11!! Remember, she is only 11!!
10. Well known Table Tennis guru Em Rat Thich has stated, ‘Harimoto is one of the new trend in Table Tennis’. Their style is to take the ball early and to use the optimum speed already on the ball. Tomokazu understands this method and uses it better than anyone, remember, he is still very young and improving all the time.
Please check out some of the Harimoto sibling’s matches and best points on YouTube.