The Whitehorse Table Tennis Club’s ranking system is not flawless – especially to start the season – but in some ways it’s better if it’s not.
The club kicked off the season with its first ranking tournament of the season at Whitehorse Elementary on Sunday.
“We do three or four a year to keep people on their toes,” said club president Dave Stockdale. “It keeps it interesting, especially when you get a challenge and can move into a new group.
“You can hit a ball around for so long and then you get bored. With a tournament I find people will stay until three or four o’clock.
“These tournaments are good for socializing – getting to know people.”
Taking into account last year’s rankings, as well as some anecdotal knowledge of skill levels, the roughly 20 players were split into three-person groups to compete against each other.
Using a bit of guesswork, the three players expected to be the strongest, for example, competed against each other for the top three spots. The three players expected to fill spots four through six were grouped together to compete for those spots, and onwards in that fashion.
Sunday’s rankings will be used to construct a competitive ladder or “challenge board” in which players can challenge others for their position on the board.
Since the tournament relies, in part, on anecdotal intelligence, and the resulting rankings are not necessarily representative of the players’ level, the challenge board will see a lot more movement in the coming weeks.
“When we have a week where there’s not a tournament, you challenge others in between on the challenge board,” said Stockdale.
Playing for the top three spots were Alex Zheng, Kevin Murphy and last year’s points leader Ryan Bachli. Undefeated, Bachli held his top-spot while Murphy defeated Zheng for second.
Bachli, the current Yukon champion for men’s singles and doubles, won three bronze medals in the junior male division at the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife.
Murphy, a 17-time Yukon men’s champion who coaches Bachli, won the men’s doubles territorial championship with his pupil last April.
Alex Zheng represented the territory at the Arctic Winter Games in March winning silver and gold medals in the juvenile male division.
Edna Knight is the top-ranked women’s player. She was last year’s runner-up at the Yukon Championships in the women’s division, and she placed in eighth at the end of Sunday. Like Murphy, Knight has a long history in the sport, winning Yukon’s women’s title 11 times.
Mustafa Ali Syed, who also played at March’s Games, winning two golds in juvenile male, was placed in sixth.
The main event on the minds of local junior players this season is the Canada Winter Games taking place February in Halifax. Like with the Arctic Games in March, the Yukon will likely not have a girls’ table tennis team to send to Halifax.
“We have a squad of boys together, but we have no girls whatsoever,” said Stockdale.
“It was the first time in 40 years that we didn’t have a girls’ team at the Arctic Winter Games.
“We could have brought anyone and they would have won a medal because there were so few girls at the Games. We weren’t the only ones that didn’t have a team and some divisions only had two competitors.”
So far on the boys’ roster for the Winter Games is Sana Syed, Mustafa Syed, Ehsan Idrees and Zheng.
“They’ve opened a table tennis training camp in Vancouver and what I’d like to do is send them there for a week,” said Stockdale. “And there’s a Richmond Open in November and maybe we’ll be sending some kids to that too.”
The club meets twice a week at Whitehorse Elementary on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. New members are welcome.
1st Ryan Bachli 547
2nd Kevin Murphy 540
3rd Alex Zheng 494
4th Taras Yurkin 488
5th Mark Preston 482
6th Mustafa Syed 476
7th Ehsan Idrees 472
8th Edna Knight 471
9th Andy Todd 470
10th Duncan Chataway 448
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