Fall Open & Arctic Winter Games Team Tryouts Tournament

Alaska is know for the long summer days and dark winter nights.  But in preparation for the winter the Alaska Table Tennis club hosted the 2013 Fall Open and Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska Tryouts Tournament. 

Danette Weissler, Young Sun Elliott and Mary Nomani in their women's pool round robin play. With the new wood floor at the AT&T Sports Pavilion the stage was set for the battle of the ages.  Youth vs. the Older experienced players.  

A strong showing of 33 participants with 11 entering for the first time in an Mary Nomani looms large over Gretchen Wehmhoff at the Fall Open Women's Singles. Smiles all around.Alaskan tournament.   Players  were encouraged to enter up to 2 singles division and one doubles.  Most players got some great action with others waiting to play as rounds slowed down in midday.  

A good Alaskan women turnout of 5 females in the women's singles.  They gathered for a round robin of matches for fun, excitement and competition.  First time tournament players Danette Weissler and Young Sun Elliott who are spouses of Mark Weissler and Paul Elliott commented they had a great time.  Great action including juvenile female entrant and first time AK tournament player Erin Sivitz grouped with veteran players Mary Nomani and Gretchen Wehmhoff.  Great to see the women get a good turnout for a fun round robin of play.  Facing of in the finals were 2 previous women's champions, Gretchen Wehmhoff and Mary Nomani.  Ending up on top was 4-time Open Women's Singles champion Mary Nomani defeating Gretchen 7-11, 11-3, 14-12 and 11-4.   Mary's titles date back to 2002.   Look for mixed doubles in the next tournament in January 2014.

The Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska Tryouts were mixed with this fall event.  A good field of 5 juniors and 6 juvenile males & females fought for 2 positions in each division and gender.  Many of them were first time tournament players.  Tossed in to the mix was When not playing, Jimmy was scorekeeping the action. Juvenile male athlete Elijah Kim looks on as he finished in the top group of young players. 2012 juvenile AWG Team Alaska member Jimmy Gao from Homer.  Jimmy came home in 2012 with a bronze medal in the juvenile male team division with Eli Neslund. Jimmy came to town to reclaim his spot on team Alaska as a possible 4 time AWG team Alaska member if he keeps playing until 2018.  At 12 years old he stood his own unchallenged in the juvenile division and took on the big boys in the Open and A division singles.  Jimmy made the AWG cut but a 2nd pick is still to be determined with a closely fought bunch for the 2nd position.  

Sweeping the juvenile division un defeated he faced off with the A division players finishing 2nd in his pool of 4 players.  Advancing to the semi finals he faced Paul Elliott.  

Jimmy's consistant strokes, footwork and effective reverse backhand he spun his way to the finals against another young AWG 2012 Team Alaska athlete, Andrew Kim.  Now too old to tryout again he was up and down thought the day.  Players from Homer, Juneau, Eagle River, JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson) Military base and Anchorage attended this one day event.  

Doubles matches were fought in the morning with 4 teams in both the Open and 4 teams in the B/C Doubles.  A strong pair of Cade Loving and Brant Bennett came out on top pressing their opponants with their consistant play and sharp angles.  Brant Bennett is the grandson of legendary Alaska Table Tennis Hall of Fame member and first AWG coatch, Boyd Bennett.  Brant also was a junior player for Team Alaska in 2008.  

In the B Singles a good turnout of new players and strong local club players were split in to 2 round tobin pools.  The 2 pools would exchange matches with the top 2 players advancing to the semi finals in a cross over matchup.  With the new players not fully understanding the format, several left early with other engaments or unknowing they were to advance beyond the round robin pools.  In a head-to-head matchup semi finals one Cade Loving edged out Mike Mann 11-9, 4-11, 7-11, 11-4 and 12-10.  In the 2nd semi finals Mark easily defeated Sabastein Wetterlin 11-, 11-5 and 11-7.  Mark's focused play against Cade in the final prevaled with his first B singles championship.  

The Open Singles feature 7 of Alaska's top players.  Top seed and new Alaskan player, Rendy Tan was tested but his experience prooved too tough for the local players.  In the 1st pool of 4 stong players, Alaska Yukon Challenge Singles Champion, Chidi was upended with Kyles steady play and Yuriy's come from behind victory.  In the 2nd pool Rendy Tan easily overcame Karl Augestad and Paul Elliott to advance with Karl moving on to the semis.

The top 4 seeds ended up in the Semi-finals but not in their original ranking.  Kyle faced Karl in a rematch from 2012.  Kyle has been playing strong and loves the defensive game with rallies often pushing him back far from the table.  His steady blocks and placements prooved too tough for Karl as Kyle was well intended to move to the finals.  A strong but close 11-8, 11-9, 9-11 and 11-9 victory.  in the 2nd pool a past champion and now part time player, Yuriy Solovov participated but was not well prepared.  Frustration and emotions rattled him in the semi finals matchup with new comer, Rendy Tan.  Randy's agressive style prooved too strong for Yuriy to handle and advance to the finals to face Kyle Yan.  The styles of play in the open pairings displayed Kyle's ability to shag balls from all over the court.  But Rendy's heavy loop drive and tricky placement demonstrated too tough for Kyle to muster up a game agains the top seed.  Rendy Tan was victorious in the Open Singles and Open Doubles with Chidi.

Now several Alaskans will be heading to Portland Oregon to take on the Pac Rim players Nov. 2-3.  Players from Canada, Washington, Oregon, California and other nearby states will be fending or cash and trophies in this strong field of players.  Look for results soon.  Spin on and come out and play on one of the Alaska Table Tennis clubs open drop-in sessions.  See the calendar for dates and times.  


MORE TO COME... Off to play at the drop-in session now.  Thanks, Karl

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