The next Arctic Winter Games are a year away, but Table Tennis Yukon is already laying foundation for a team to field.
Eight young players from Whitehorse competed at the Spring Open hosted by the Calgary United Sports Table Tennis Association in Alberta on Saturday.
The trip provided valuable tournament experience to those who didn’t have any, and five of the eight players pocketed wins.
“Number one was to start the process of looking for a team for the Arctic Winter Games,” said Dave Stockdale, president of Table Tennis Yukon. “Secondly, (some of) these kids had no competitive experience. You can’t go to play in a fairly major event without some experience of a tournament because the atmosphere is so different, your stresses are different.”
The Yukon squad’s most experienced player on the trip, Kyle Gonder, had the greatest success in Calgary.
The 15-year-old took three wins to reach the quarterfinal in the under-300 (rating points) division. He also won twice in the higher under-600 division.
Yukon teammate Abed Rajab had two wins in under-300 to make the round of 16 and won twice in under-600.
Gonder and Rajab were the only two Yukoners with rating points going into the tournament.
“In Calgary, they gave every other kid 100 points,” said Stockdale. “Because they have played in that tournament, they will probably get onto the national rating list now. They’ll be pretty low, but at least they’ll have an official rating from being in a tournament.”
Gonder and Rajab also teamed up to reach the semifinal in the under-400 doubles and produced a win in under-800 doubles.
Yukon’s Hassan Rajab and Arcel Siosan both had a win in under-300 and then teamed up to reach the second round of the under-400 doubles.
Teammate Greg Murdochwon won twice in under-300 singles and also won once in under-600 singles.
Yukon’s Grace Anne Janssen, Thomas Brenner and Nicholas Morgan also competed but didn’t grab any wins.
Though the Yukon players are all youngsters, it was not a junior-level tournament. It was a tournament with divisions based on national rating points.
“That was one of the beauties of the tournament was the fact that it was rated like this,” said Stockdale. “Anyone rated under 300 would be just past the beginner player.”
Gonder, Abed and Janssen all represented the Yukon at the 2012 Arctic Games, with Gonder winning a bronze in the team event.
Gonder also competed at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax and was last year’s junior division winner at the Yukon Table Tennis Championships.
“We made some really good contacts there and there’s the possibility that we may be taking kids back in the summer for a training camp, or possibly bring one of their coaches to Whitehorse,” said Stockdale. “We’re definitely going to a camp in October, there’s an Edmonton open.”
Table Tennis Yukon is holding an identification camp this Saturday to prospect for potential players for next year’s Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Yukon team is looking for players born in 1996 or later for the junior division and players born in 1999 or later for the juvenile division. Registration is at 1:30 p.m. at Whitehorse Elementary School.
The association will also host a Filipino tournament April 13 and a Chinese tournament April 20. Both tournaments will take place at Whitehorse Elementary with registration at 1:30 p.m.
The Yukon Table Tennis Championships will take place April 27-28.
Contact Tom Patrick at