Harimoto Tomokazu is one of the most promising table tennis player in the World. At 15 years old, he is already in the top 10 ITTF World Ranking System.
Harimoto Tomokazu biography
Tomokazu was born as Zhang Zhihe (張 智和) in Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. His parents (Yu and Lin) are both Chinese professionals from Sichuan province. They are both former professional table tennis players from Sichuan province. Lin, at the peak of her career, represented China at the 43rd World Table Tennis Championships in Tianjin.
Harimoto began playing table tennis at the age of two. He, along with his father and sister, became a naturalized citizen of Japan in 2014. Then he legally changed his surname to Harimoto.
Now Harimoto Tomokazu has the nationality as a Japanese. His name is 张智和 (Zhang Zihe). His Japanese name is 张本智和 (Harimoto Tomokazu).
In 2016, Harimoto knocked out the world when he became the youngest junior world champion, winning the title at just 13 years old. This event has been a springboard for many great players around the world.
In 2017, Harimoto reached the top 8 of the WTTC in addition to becoming the champion of the Czech Open. And in January 2018, he beat his compatriot Jun Mizutani, becoming the champion of the Japanese men’s singles.
Tomokazu achievements so far:
- 2018 Japanese Men’s Singles Champion
- 2017 Czech Open – Men’s Singles Champion
- 2017 World Championships – Men’s Singles Top 8
- 2016 ITTF Japan Open – Under 21 Men’s Singles Champion (Youngest Winner of an ITTF World Tour Under 21 event at just 12 years of age!)
- 2016 ITTF Slovenia Open – Youngest Player in Quarterfinals at an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles event at just 12 years of age!
- 2015 All Japan Championships (Hoops) – Men’s Championship
- 2015 All Japan Championships (Cadet) – 13-year-old following the Men’s Singles Championship
- 2014 All Japan Championships (Hoops) – Men’s Championship
- 2014 All Japan Championships (Cadet) – 13-year-old following the Men’s Singles Championship
- 2012 All Japan Championships (Turnip) – Men’s Championship
- 2010 All-Japan Championship (Bambi) – Men’s championship
Tomokazu’s playing style
His father was his coach from the beginning and often his father still trains Harimoto at big competitions. Yu’s calm attitude offsets Harimoto’s intensity, keeping Harimoto focused during the competition.
Due to his smaller size and inadequate brute power, Harimoto plays close to the table. He is known for his rapid backhands and forehand counters, unlike the long distance loops and passive blocks of Jun Mizutani. Mizutani represents the obstacle that Harimoto must overcome to become the best player in Japan.
The strength of Harimoto Tomokazu
- Quick backhand counter attack
- Powerful forehand topspin close to the table
Tomokazu current blade
Tomokazu has changed his blade several times. From Fukuhara Ai Pro ZLF to Innerforce ALC. But currently, he is using a custom blade of Butterfly. His blade is one of the top 10 blades used by professional table tennis players.
Upon request from Harimoto himself, the bow in his blades logo represents the characters in his family name (Hari meaning “bow”). The three arrows represent the Harimoto family working together as one. The bow comes from his last name 張, which consists of the radical 弓(bow).
It’s is the custom ALC blade, it plays like Innerforce ALC (read below).
Tomokazu Harimoto’s equipment
That is his father and also his coach, Mr. Yu, who has selected the table tennis equipment (blade and rubber) for Harimoto Tomokazu.
His father said:
Selection of equipment, rackets cannot be ignored, just like rubbers. The concept is the same for rackets and rubbers, I want him to have an easy-to-use racquet because he’s just a child, I think a stable racket is essential.
Yu’s first racket for Tomokazu was FUKUHARA AI PRO ZLF (Available on eBay)
Harimoto Tomokazu explained about his table tennis set-up:
“With a racket with a hard feeling, the ball bounces before any spin is transmitted and goes down. Now, the racket with the feeling of holding the ball is easy to use. (flexible but fast blade)“
After that, he used a custom-made racket of INNERFORCE LAYER ALC. For Tomokazu, who forces the opponent to move on the court with a block and counterattack near the table game, he does not require the ball to travel a long distance with a hard racket.
Tomokazu trusts the current racket, which is easy to spin the ball.
Tomokazu current racket
It’s a custom ALC blade with Zhang Jike Super ZLC handle. He also uses Tenergy 05 and Tenergy 05FX rubbers.
- Blade: Custom INNERFORCE ALC, with Zhang Jike Super ZLC handle. (Read review/ Confirmed by Butterfly Official)
- Forehand rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 05 Hard (Black)
- Backhand rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 05FX
The advantage of this setup:
- Improved Ease Of Imparting Spin On The Ball
- Style: Attack
- Reaction: 10.1
- Vibration: 8.4
- Great for players playing close to mid distance to the table.
- Ideal for strong first ball attacks.
- Easier to create spin on the ball.
- Easy to ‘hold’ the ball on the racket (good dwell-time)
Some spec of the Harimoto Tomokazu’s racket
- Class: OFF
- Plies: 5W+2ALC
- Weight: ~87g – 90g
- Blade Thickness: 5.5mm (rather thin which gives good feeling)
- Blade Size: 157x150mm (medium head, fast blade, close to the table attack)
- AN Handle Size: 100x24mm
- FL Handle Size: 100x24mm
- ST Handle Size: 100x23mm
- Made in Japan
Where to buy the same set-up of Harimoto Tomokazu?
I recommend you to buy the blade, and rubber from the Official Butterfly Shop.
You will get the highest quality possible, and therefore reduce the chance of buying fake products. (There are many fake Butterfly products on the market).
Buy Innerforce ALC blade
You can buy the Innerforce ALC blade here:
Buy Tenergy 05
Order Tenergy 05 fx
Why is Harimoto Tomokazu so strong?
Tomokazu is the phenomenon in table tennis history. Since there are no young kids, at only 12 years old, who has beaten many top table tennis player in the world.
There are 2 main reasons for the success of Harimoto Tomokzu:
- His father and himself have devoted their lives to this sport. They trained several hours a day (up to 8 hours even at the weekend).
- His father is a very good coach. He has trained Harimoto Tomokazu to be the first one to capitalize on the “New Trend in Table Tennis”.
I’ve explained in this video, what is this trend. And Harimoto Tomokazu is one of the first players who train for this trending.
Ma Long himself admitted that when he was 12, he was not as good as Harimoto. Just two months ago, on the occasion of the Swedish Open, Xu Xin narrowly escaped the young player, winning 9-11 in the seventh. If Harimoto is at Xu Xin’s level at only 13 years old, China could be in danger.
However, similar to his match against Mizutani, Harimoto was able to exploit Xu Xin’s style of play. Against other Chinese stars such as Ma Long and Fan Zhendong, Harimoto is still far behind. And we must not forget that the pool of young players in China is large and deep, while the only hope of Japan is Harimoto.