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Takahiro Yamamoto

Takahiro Yamamoto is renowned for his power, pace and exuberance as a youthful and energetic wing spiker for Japan. At 200cm and 87kg he's one of the biggest players in the Japanese lineup and has one of the biggest hearts. It is these qualities that are turning Yamamoto into one of the key players within the Japanese team now in the process of being reshaped with the enxt generation of players.

Following a steep learning curve during last year's World Championships in Argentina the 24-year-old from Tottori is aiming to continue the momentum by issuing an ominous warning to his opponents at the 2003 World League.

"I am still improving," Yamamoto said. "Last year my serving was not consistent and I made a lot of mistakes, but now I can serve, not only effectively but I can serve smart by changing my serve pattern. However, above all I have to score with effective spiking when it comes to the crucial points. I have learnt that if my spiking is not consistent the team suffers, but if my spiking is effective, I can lead the whole team in the right direction."

Yamamoto is a leader both on and off the court for Japan and is fast becoming known for both his outspoken views and inspirational play. But his enthusiasm is prone to attracting attention and comments he made in April about Japan's chances in the World League drew a lot of attention. He has predicted that his side can upset the form book and qualify for the World League final round, which may be a lot to ask from this young team now ranked 12th in the world and living in the shadow of the almighty Japanese sides of past Volleyball eras. For Yamamoto's prediction to come true, Japan must qualify second in their group amongst France, Argentina and Greece who are ranked 5th, 6th and tenth in the world respectively. 

"After playing France and Greece in last year's World League and Argentina in the World Championship I don't think any of them has a definitive edge over us," the left hander said. "Although our record of last year against them isn't good, I believe we have a reasonable chance to be second in our group and qualify for the final round."