Tomokazu Harimoto talks about TENERGY #2
(Courtesy of Table Tennis World)
Why was his first rubber not TENERGY 05?
TENERGY 05, popular among many of the world’s top players with its high arched curve and the strong rotation to be imparted; Yu did not let his son use the top rubber. Of course, it does not mean he never tried it but TENERGY 05 was too heavy and the feeling was too hard for Tomokazu, at his young age.
“TENERGY 05 was fast and good for me when I tried it but Tomokazu was still small at that time, so I deemed he would not be able to make full use of its performance due to a lack of power. Stability is more important than power in equipment. Weight is also one of the points to be taken into account for a primary school child. Therefore, I selected TENERGY 64 for his forehand and TENERGY 64 FX 1.9 for his backhand, considering in particular stability and weight. I wanted to make the racket lighter by choosing softer sponge,” explained Yu.
It is true that a rubber with a harder feel can extract good strokes in practice, but the ball will not travel far enough if the timing is late and the stroke position not ideal. To select equipment prioritising on stability more than anything else; the concept is still the same now.
Tomokazu, himself, also focused on ease of use. “I thought it was difficult to use the rubber when I tried TENERGY 05 for the first time because the ball went down. I was only in grade six at that time, so I did not have enough power to make full use of the rubber. TENERGY 64, which my father selected was easy to use with its soft feeling on impact and stability as well as speed,” Tomokazu recollected that time.
The sponge hardness is the same but the pimple shape on the top sheet is different; TENERGY 05 possesses a harder feeling and a sense of grip at impact while TENERGY 64 delivers a softer feeling and the sense of the ball digging into the rubber. After starting to use TENERGY 64 and TENERGY 64 FX in April 2015, Tomokazu raised the weight gradually without changing the combination. Accordingly the weight was raised slowly by one gram and two grams, the rubber became harder; that was also in proportion to Tomokazu’s muscular strength.
Tomokazu changed the backhand rubber to TENERGY 05 FX in September 2015 and soon changed the thickness from 1.9 to 2.1mm; the changes were to seek more speed. He changed to the rubber with a harder feeling when Yu judged Tomokazu can “swing” even with heavier equipment; the adjustments have been made by Yu without Tomokazu being aware.
The swing speed of his backhand increased especially after he started using “Chiquita” return of service. He became able to hit the ball by letting it dig into the rubber even with TENERGY 05 FX. The request for rubbers changed according not only to the increase of power but also to the variety of strokes he became able to execute; for the “Chiquita”, requiring stronger spin, TENERGY 05 FX was more suitable.
Using the “Chiquita”, stable throughout while retaining strong spin, Tomokazu went on a rampage at the World Junior Championships; he clinched the Boy’s Singles title. The “Chiquita” won one point after another, applying strong sidespin, the ball curves and is followed by a powerful top spin. Tomokazu combined short push with extremely strong backspin in addition to the “Chiquita” to prevent his opponent taking the initiative.
It can be concluded that his strength is his high quality on both the “Chiquita”, the ball travelling long and the delicate backspin push to keep the ball short. Also, speed is necessary to push the opponent to the edge, not to mention the stability to create angles to gain an early advantage. Yu, judging his swing speed had increased enough, let him change the rubber at the earlier stage.
On the other hand, for his forehand side, he did not change the rubber for a long time adjusting and trying TENERGY 05 but returning to TENERGY 64. He changed the rubber to TENERGY 80 in March 2016.
Notably, using TENERGY 80, Jun Mizutani had taken one year to use it effectively; after half a year, Tomokazu started to feel the speed was not enough. “His swing speed has increased but the ball does not go faster. It is time to use TENERGY 05,” Yu thought.