Yukon table tennis players took on four Alaskan clubs at the Alaska/Yukon Challenge Table Tennis competition at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Friday. And they didn’t leave empty-handed.
Yukon’s Kyle Gonder and Haider Rajab teamed up to win the under-1000 (points) team competition.
“I thought it was good,” said Gonder, who represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games in February. “The experience from travelling a lot more definitely helped.”
For the title the two Yukoners won three “ties”- sets of four singles and one double matches – only dropping one doubles match along the way.
Rajab went on to finish third in the under-1000 singles competition, defeating Alaska’s Sam Joseph 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 12-14, 11-8 for the bronze.
“It’s a handicap tournament based on your ratings,” said Dave Stockdale, president of Table Tennis Yukon. “If you play in tournaments you get a rating system, in Canada and the US.
“So if Kyle had 500 points and was playing a guy with only 300 points, for every 50 points he has to give the other guy one point (in the match). So Kyle would start at minus four.
“It’s a really good tournament and it opens it up for all levels of play.”
The doubles trophy and bronze were not the only accolades to come in from the tourney, which six Yukon players attended.
For his efforts in helping run the Challenge competition over the past few years, Whitehorse umpire Brian Stuart was given the Jerry Smith Spirit of the Game Award.
“It’s a great honour,” said Stuart. “I remember seeing (Jerry Smith) and being around him, and he was a positive influence on everyone – he’d be happy to play with anyone.
“Being put in the category with the other recipients of it, it was a great honour because it’s recognition of how I try to help out everybody.”
Stuart started umpiring when Whitehorse hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007, eventually advancing to the provincial level.
He has now umpired at two Arctic Winter Games, two Canada Games and a national championship, where he also took a course on refereeing – running tournaments.
If certified, he could be the head referee for the Arctic Winter Games next year in Whitehorse.
“It’s always good to get the practice in to run these events and meet people who are excited about the sport,” said Stuart.
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