Winter Games table tennis crew selected … almost

The problem with multi-sport athletes is that they have to be shared.

The problem with multi-sport athletes is that they have to be shared.

That is the obstacle Table Tennis Yukon hopes to overcome as they put the final pieces in place for the Canada Winter Games taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in February.

The organization held its team trials on Sunday at the Whitehorse Elementary School, selecting five players – three players and two alternates – for the Games this winter, but two may yet decide to commit themselves to Team Yukon’s squash crew.

After three round-robins, Ehsan Edrees took the top spot on the team, followed by Alex Zheng and Mustafa Syed in the third spot. The team’s alternates are Zain Syed and Kyle Gonder.

“I have a feeling we’re going to lose a couple to squash,” said Table Tennis Yukon president Dave Stockdale. “They are on the squash squad, actually, which is a pretty strong indication they are going to have a choice.

“We talked to Squash (Yukon) and said they can tryout for both and then make a decision.”

Torn between sports are the two Syed brothers, who were tied after the three round-robins, having to compete for the final team spot and the first alternate position.

At the end of last month the two Syed brothers competed at the Evergreen Junior Squash Tournament in North Vancouver. There Mustafa went undefeated, winning the boys’ U-15 B division.

“He felt the opening rounds were too easy because he just steamrolled them,” said Khoon Chua, head coach for Squash Yukon. “So I told him the next tournament he plays, he should play in the open.”

Zain also took a title, winning the boys’ U-17 B division without dropping a match.

However, Mustafa also has big-event experience in table tennis, winning two gold medals in juvenile male division at the Arctic Winter Games in March. Zheng also represented the territory at the Games winning silver and gold medals in the same division.

At the start of the season, in a small ranking tournament in Whitehorse, Zheng was ranked third in the club, a few spots up from Mustafa Syed in sixth and Ehsan Idrees in seventh.

At this point, no girls have been selected – or even tried out – for the team.

“It’s a project in the making,” said Stockdale. “There are a couple girls that are pretty good in my beginner group and may come along.

“Porter Creek (Secondary) has a few tables up there, so I may go up there and hold a tournament and pick out some girls that have potential.”

At the Arctic Games in March, it was the first time in more than three decades the Yukon had no female table tennis players to represent the territory at the event.

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