(Reuters) - Precocious 12-year-old Japanese paddler Tomokazu Harimoto faces the most daunting of prospects after becoming the youngest player to qualify for the main draw of an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world tour event.
Harimoto, ranked 286th in the world, will take on China’s world number one, Olympic and world champion Ma Long in the first round of the Polish Open.
Harimoto’s prize came after he beat 32-year-old Croatian Tan Ruiwu in a tight seven-game match in Warsaw on Thursday.
“I won my group here, I’m happy because I won against Tan Ruiwu. If I attacked against him, everything was good but I had problem when I had to defend,” Harimoto, who started playing the game at the age of two, told the ITTF website.
“When I was a little boy I sat on a chair and tried play table tennis; now I practise nine hours every day.”
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Patrick Johnston