Inaugural league showcases next generation of stars to headline the sport.
Singapore, April 26, 2017 – The inaugural T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) announced the addition of two irrepressible young talents to join the star-studded line-up of players in the tournament – 13-year-old child prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto from Japan and Romanian Bernadette Szocs, one of the best players in the ITTF Junior Circuit.
Harimoto, who has been dominating headlines in the media recently for his stunning performances in the senior level, is expected to be in the spotlight after registering wins against seasoned professional players in the competition circuit such as Hugo Calderano, Jens Lundquist and Anton Kallberg. The Senai native’s most recent result was finishing runner-up at February’s Indian Open, losing in the final to World No. 5 Dimitrij Ovtcharov from Germany, who is also competing in T2APAC.
Boasting a maturity that bellies his age, the World no. 61 was also crowned the youngest ever World Junior Champion last December in Cape Town while beating older players in the under-18 category as a ‘Cadet’, and his aggressive playing style and exuberant celebrations will be well-suited for the made-for-television sports event.
The 22-year-old Szocs had struggled with injuries in recent years but has gradually made a comeback with positive results in the first round of February’s 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup in Antibes, France, causing an upset over Li Qian of Poland, the 2009 champion and no.5 seed. She also helped her national team qualify for the Women’s Championship Division at the 2017 ITTF European Championships in the qualifying group stage in January.
Szocs, currently ranked World No. 57, has been making waves in the women’s circuit having clinched senior singles champion of Romania in 2012 and also won the World Junior Circuit series in that same year. She also finished runner-up in the Table Tennis European Championships in 2011 as part of the national senior team.
Said Yoshihito Miyazaki, National Team Director: “We are delighted that Tomo will be competing in this tournament against some major names in the table tennis circuit, which will go a long way to build his match experience and mental strength. We’re confident this tournament will play an important stepping stone to spur his development towards the bigger goal of competing as a medal hopeful at Tokyo 2020. We’re very proud of his recent achievements and his progress bodes well for our national team.”
Said [JTTA representative]: “We are delighted that Tomo will be competing in this tournament against some major names in the table tennis circuit, which will go a long way to build his match experience and mental strength. We’re confident this tournament will play an important stepping stone to spur his development towards the bigger goal of competing as a medal hopeful at Tokyo 2020. We’re very proud of his recent achievements and his progress bodes well for our national team.”
The tournament currently boasts several major top-10 players including Dimitrij from Germany (World No 5), Jun Mizutani from Japan (World No. 6) and Chuang Chih-Yuan (World No. 10) of Chinese Taipei. The event will also feature some world-renowned players the women’s World No. 5 Cheng I-Ching from Chinese Taipei, former World No. 1 Timo Boll from Germany and legendary defensive player Joo Sae Hyuk of South Korea who was ranked 5th in the world at his peak.
Other top names competing in T2APAC’s inaugural season for a prize purse of over USD 1.5 million include Feng Tianwei (Singapore), Chen Chien-an (Chinese Taipei), Paul Drinkhall (England), Elizabeta Samara (Romania), Yang Haeun and Jeon Jihee (South Korea), Aleksandr Shibaev (Russia), Vladimir Samsonov (Belarus), Georgina Pota (Hungary), Matilda Ekholm (Sweden), Suthasini Sawettabut (Thailand) and Mattias Karlsson (Sweden). More players will be announced in the coming weeks.
Each match in the inaugural T2APAC Table Tennis League is limited to 24 minutes, where players try to win as many games as possible within the duration. All players will play in separate but concurrent singles and mixed-team championships in a league format. All players will go through a draft selection process which will be selected by Team Captains.