Dawson City further cemented its status as a hotbed for table tennis talent over the weekend in Anchorage.
A Klondiker registered the territory’s only division win at the Alaska-Yukon Challenge, a ninth annual event that saw 40 players from Yukon, Fairbanks and Anchorage compete.
“It was a good tournament. There was a good turnout,” said Yukon head coach Kevin Murphy. “There was a good level of play to challenge all the players, especially with the handicap in place.”
Dawson’s Ethan Gaw placed first in singles for players under 1,000 ranking points. Under the tournament’s handicap system Gaw began each game at minus five points, but managed to comeback to defeat Anchorage’s Dylan Bruce 11-5, 11-6 in the finalx.
Whitehorse’s Grace-Anne Janssen took third in the division.
Gaw and fellow Dawsonite Gerard Parsons also placed second in the U1,000 team event, ahead of Yukon teammates Kate Crocker of Dawson and Ming Haung of Whitehorse in third.
Yukoners came up just short of a win in the tougher open team event.
Whitehorse’s Taras Yurkin and four-time Yukon champ Ryan Bachli lost a deciding game 11-9 to place second behind an Anchorage pair.
Whitehorse’s Daniel Li paced third in open singles behind Fairbanks and Anchorage players.
“Daniel, who was my partner in the team event, he and I will come back with the boast that we were undefeated in the doubles,” said Murphy. “Every team event has a doubles match and we won every doubles match … that didn’t get us any prizes or money or anything like that. It’s a boast we’ll be happy to bandy about.”
The skill of Dawson players have become glaringly evident over the last few months. Half of the team Yukon sent to the 2016 Arctic Winter Games was Dawsonites – including Gaw and Crocker.
More recently, Dawson’s Emily Gaw won three titles, including open women’s singles, at the Yukon Table Tennis Championships last month.
With the sport blooming in the Klondike town, Table Tennis Yukon is considering holding the Alaska-Yukon Challenge in Dawson in 2018, the next time it’s Yukon’s turn to host.
“It would be very unique and would make it easier traveling for all parties concerned because it’s a longer way into Whitehorse from Fairbanks and Anchorage than it is in Dawson City,” said Murphy.
“I mentioned it at the banquet and it was well received, but we’ll have to work on the logistics of it to see if it can happen.”
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