The table tennis 2020 Arctic Winter Games team has been decided after tryouts were held on Saturday at École Whitehorse Elementary School.
Eight players made the team and it features both experienced and non-experienced players.
“I got a good hold over from the Canada Winter Games team,” said head coach Kevin Murphy. “I was looking for four new players and I achieved that. We’ve got the team and will move forward with that.”
Four players from the team, Raghvi and Krish Sharma, Ming Huang and Jake Tucker will once again be representing the Yukon in table tennis after having competed at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.
“Raghvi and Ming are older and Krish and Jake are juveniles,” said Murphy. “We won’t be able to pair them up but they are strong players on their own.”
Murphy said that usually during the summer the table tennis club takes a break from training but they’ve continued to work hard after the CWG.
“We were coming out of the Canada Winter Games rejuvenated,” said Murphy. “I wanted to keep it up and we haven’t let up. We’ve been guilty in the past of taking our foot off the peddle but this year it’s been go-go-go.”
Murphy said he is going to lean on the returning table tennis athletes to help the four newcomers get up to speed.
“I’m going to rely on that,” said Murphy. “We have a lot of work to bring them up. Not all are inexperienced. One fella who made the team played for the club three years ago.
“We will work to get their level of play up and we’ll see if they have it. It will be a lot of work in the next four months but we will practice two-three times a week so they acquit themselves to the game.”
Although the new athletes haven’t competed in table tennis they do have experience participating in other high-calibre competitions.
“One, Rogan Perry, is a kayaker and has competed at nationals and at the WCSG,” said Murphy. “Two others were in wrestling and judo but switched. You can never underestimate that kind of experience.”
When the Games do commence, Murphy is expecting tough competition, especially from the other territories.
“Table tennis is becoming a strong sport across the North,” said Murphy. “N.W.T. and Nunavut have good coaches. The N.W.T. benefits from Thor Gohl and Nunavut from Attila Csaba.”
Murphy also noted that he is expecting to see tough competition from the Russian and Greenlandian delegations who have both been historically strong in table tennis at the AWG.
Although not ready to declare the team will win gold medals, Murphy does believe the team has some upset potential.
“The two returning girls, Raghvi and Ming are really good calibre and starting to blossom,” said Murphy. “It bodes well for them. It’s just a matter of delivering on a big stage. They have upside and the tools right now.
“Given time and training, they could upset the natural order of things.”
He believes the other players possess the potential to upset some of the usually strong teams.
“I’m looking to upset some established players,” said Murphy. “I’m really excited more so than the past. I had strong teams in the past that were consistent but couldn’t get over the top.
“There is some potential here waiting to be fulfilled and you could be surprised with the results.”
With the 2020 AWG games being played at home, Murphy said there will be more pressure with family and friends around. However, he said most have been on a competitive stage before and have the right mentality to focus on the games at hand.