Murphy, Knight win again at table tennis championships

Whitehorse’s Kevin Murphy and Edna Knight had to make space in their already cluttered trophy cases following the Yukon Table Tennis Championships at Whitehorse Elementary School on Sunday.

Whitehorse’s Kevin Murphy and Edna Knight had to make space in their already cluttered trophy cases following the Yukon Table Tennis Championships at Whitehorse Elementary School on Sunday.

The two members of Yukon table tennis royalty won singles and doubles titles at the tournament that marked the 40th anniversary of the first recorded territorial championships.

Murphy captured his 19th men’s singles title and Knight her 12th women’s singles title.

“Maybe I should get to 20 and retire,” said Murphy. “I still love the game, I still love to be intense about the game. Ryan (Bachli) always seems to bring out the best in me and I do in him, so it’s good that we can continue to challenge each other.”

Murphy defended his title from last year with a 14-12, 14-12, 13-11 win over two-time men’s champ Ryan Bachli in the final. Bachli won the title in 2010 and 2011, defeating Murphy in the final.

Sunday was the sixth consecutive time the two have met in the final, “and they’ve always been really close,” said Murphy. “When they’re all in deuce, it could have easily gone the other way.”

“It took a lot out of me to concentrate and just try to win those games. I knew that if he got one game in, my stamina probably wouldn’t allow me to stay in there for the full match. I think that was part of the secret to winning.

“Ryan and I always play close games.”

Neither Murphy nor Knight went through the championships unscathed. The two champs both lost matches to the players they went on to meet in the final.
“In team matches I lost to him three games to one (on Saturday) and Ryan made the observation, slightly joking, whoever wins the first match always loses the second match,” said Murphy. “I remember it always being that way and it was prophetic.”

“I lost to Xiu-Mei (Zhang) today in the round-robin,” said Knight. “I lost in the fifth (set). This one I was doing more hits. I had more confidence and the only way I could beat her is if I do defence, but if I can out-hit her, then I have a better chance.”

Knight defeated defending champ Zhang 11-8, 11-8, 11-3 in the women’s final. It was a rematch from last year’s final that Zhang won in four sets.

“I’m always too afraid to hit anything,” said Knight. “I love coaching, I love training people … When it comes to games, I kind of freeze up.”

Knight defeated third place’s Christina Nie in five games to reach the final.

“These were my first singles games since the championships last year,” said Knight. “I love playing doubles. Wednesdays and Fridays we do doubles and it’s lots of fun.”

Knight and Nie teamed up to win the women’s doubles title ahead of second place’s Zhang and Cornelia Brenner. Charmaine Cheung and Chaufeng Zhang took third.

Murphy and Bachli went undefeated in the men’s doubles for the title. Taras Yurkin and David Alesna took second while Ross Phillips and Jamie Phillips were held to one win for the bronze.

Whitehorse’s Kyle Gonder defended his junior title from last year, but he had a tougher row to hoe this time.

The junior boys draw saw huge growth with 12 players, up from three last year.

“There’s a lot more people and a lot more new people here,” said Gonder. “It’s good to see.”

Gonder, 15, defeated Hassan Rajab 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 in the final. Gonder lost to nine-year-old Rajab during round-robin play.

“The first one I wasn’t really warmed up and not really in the game,” said Gonder.

Gonder, who also placed third in the open men’s singles, represented the Yukon at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, N.S., and won a bronze in junior male doubles at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.

Abed Rajab, who also played at the 2012 Arctic Games, placed third in junior boys.

Grace-Anne Janssen, another Yukon player at the 2012 Arctic Games, went undefeated to win the junior girls title on Sunday. Ashley Harris placed second and Zainab Rajab third.

The territorial championships opened with a team event on Saturday.

Bachli and Xui-Mei Zhang went undefeated to win the A division. Yurkin and Gonder placed second while Mark Preston and Anthony Tumamang landed in third.

Myrna Bruns and Hassan Rajab won the B division and Ashley Harris and Conner Donaldson won the C division.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com