17 Feb 2020

Required to qualify, safely through the group stage of proceedings, Miwa Harimoto, the younger sister of the celebrated Tomokazu, won the junior girls’ singles title on Thursday 13th February at the 2020 Czech Junior and Cadet Open in Hodonin, an ITTF World Junior Circuit Premium tournament.

Thus she followed in family footsteps, one after another beating more senior adversaries and, if it was not for Mima Ito who enjoyed similar success when only 10 years old in Chinese Taipei, Miwa Harimoto would be the youngest ever. She is only 11 years of age.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Moreover, she secured the title without ever being extended the full distance; incredibly she surrendered just one individual game! The record at the end of the second day of play in terms of games read 33-1!

The one hiccup came in the opening round of the main draw when facing Hungary’s Dorottya Tolgyes, a young lady who had impressed last November in Wladyslawowo at the 2019 ITTF World Cadet Challenge. On that occasion, she reached the semi-final stage of the girls’ singles event, losing to Kaho Akae, the no.2 seed and like Miwa Harimoto from Japan. She lost in straight games (11-8, 11-3, 11-5); Kaho Akae progressed to win the event.

Facing Miwa Harimoto, Dorottya Tolgyes, secured the third game but there was no further charity (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4); the win coming after the previous day, in matches best of five games, Miwa Harimoto had topped her group ahead of Croatia’s Ivona Striga, Slovakia’s Laura Vinczeova and the host nation’s Nela Hanakova.

Mature performance

A place in the second round secured, Miwa Harimoto accounted for Sweden’s Nomin Baasan (11-7, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6), prior to overcoming, Italy’s Jamila Laurenti, the top seed (11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6) to reserve her place in the semi-finals.

The win against Jamila Laurenti underlines the quality and incredible maturity of Miwa Harimoto; the Italian uses ant-spin rubber on the backhand, thus changing the speed of the play and the trajectory of the ball. Furthermore, last year she was the junior girls’ singles runner up at the 2019 European Youth Championships.

Miwa Harimoto totally focused (Photo: Jan Brychta)


Progress in style, the progress continued without blemish; Miwa Harimoto beat Russia’s Vlada Voronina, the no.14 seed (11-9, 11-2, 12-10, 11-3), prior to securing the title at the final expense of Russia’s Arina Slautina (11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7).

Likewise Arina Slautina had been required to qualify; most notably in the opening round she overcame Darya Kisel of Belarus, the no.3 seed (11-8, 11-4, 14-16, 11-9, 16-14), before at the semi-final stage ousting Isa Cok of France, the no.2 seed (12-14, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).

Liking for Hodonin

Notably for Miwa Harimoto, the result builds on the successes of last year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit.

Clearly she has a liking for the Czech Republic, last year in Hodonin she was the cadet girls’ singles runner up, a finish in the event she also achieved in China and Hong Kong.

Additionally, it was her first ever appearance in an ITTF World Circuit girls’ singles final; take note in the counterpart junior boys’ events, it was something Tomokazu never achieved!

One up on you big brother!

World Junior Circuit 2020 Czech Junior & Cadet Open Miwa Harimoto

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