For the fifth year in a row, the men’s singles final was youth versus experience, pupil versus coach, friend versus friend and rival versus rival.
Whitehorse’s Ryan Bachli claimed his third title with a win over coach, friend, rival and 19-time champ Kevin Murphy at the 2014 Yukon Table Tennis Championships on Sunday at Whitehorse Elementary School.
The 22-year-old took the win 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-6 over Murphy, 56, who won the last two years.
“He’s hurt so it doesn’t really count,” said Bachli. “It doesn’t feel like anything special, we play all the time.”
“I kind of wish I was a little more healthy going into it, but that aside, it’s good to play Ryan,” said Murphy. “He brings out the best in me and I hope it’s mutual, I bring out the best in him. We always seem to have fun, we always seem to have good matches.”
“I had surgery in September and I think I came back to things a little too quickly and ended up with another problem known as a runners’ syndrome. It’s kind of affected my left leg and knee.”
Despite being, perhaps, half a step slower, Murphy looked on his way to a 20th title following the opening game. Murphy fought back from down 6-0 to take it.
“I just had to get warmed up, that’s all it was,” said Bachli. “For the first game and a half I wasn’t looking at the ball when I hit it, so I was just swinging. Then I started focusing more and that was it. I’d make better contact with the ball and it would go where I wanted it to go.”
“I like to stay close to the table so hopefully Ryan doesn’t push me too much, but he did in the third and fourth game,” said Murphy. “I tried to stay close on a wing and a prayer and the prayer had run out.”
Taras Yurkiv defeated junior boys champ Abed Rajab 9-11, 13-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-8 for third place in men’s singles.
Bachli and Rajab were triple crown winners over the weekend. They won in singles for their respective divisions, teamed up to win men’s doubles and were on the winning team together in Saturday’s team event.
While the men saw Bachli win a third men’s title, the women’s division got a new champ.
Myrna Bruns brought home her first women’s singles title with an 8-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9 win over 2012 champ Xiu Mei Zhang in the final.
“It feels pretty awesome,” said Bruns. “I did not know I was going to win…
“They were all close games and Xiu Mei is a hell of a player. It was just luck.”
Bruns placed third in 2012 and was the runner-up in 2008. Some extra practice over lunch hours at work might have helped.
“We play every day on our boardroom table,” said Bruns. “In the library we have a boardroom table that is darnn near regulation size. We have a net and we play off the walls and the ceiling and the windows and other people and we have an awesome time.”
Christina Nie grabbed third with a decisive three-set win over Cornelia Brenner.
Zhang and Nie partnered up to take first in women’s doubles.
Twelve-time women’s champ Edna Knight was absent from the championship.
Yukon’s Arctic Winter Games players didn’t nab hardware last month in Fairbanks, Alaska, but a few took in trophies over the weekend.
Games athlete Alysha Gullison won the junior girls title for the first time, going undefeated in the three-player round-robin.
The 15-year-old defeated Georgia Gaw and Zainab Rajab without dropping a set.
“I feel accomplished. I’ve never gotten a trophy before,” said Gullison. “When I finally won a squash tournament, they stopped giving out trophies and I got a ribbon and that was sad.”
Gaw, who also competed at the Fairbanks Games, went on to win the rookie event with straight round-robin three wins.
Gullison also placed second in women’s doubles with partner Yan Chen.
“I stopped playing for a while after Arctics in 2012, and then I tried out for (the 2014 Arctic Games) and I’ve been playing since,” added Gullison.
Rajab won his first junior boys title with a 6-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-2, 14-12 win over runner-up Arcel Siosan.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Rajab. “It took a lot of practice to get here. You had to think lots; you had to focus a lot and play your best.
“It was my first time I could actually focus,” added the 13-year-old. “I improved a lot, so I knew I had my head in the game.”
Both Rajab and Siosan represented Yukon in table tennis in Fairbanks. All the practice and competition from the Games helped over the weekend, said Rajab, who also competed at the 2012 Games.
“It was a big improvement,” said Rajab. “Lots of winning and watching.”
Hassan Rajab snagged third in junior boys with a win over Matthias Hoenish.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org