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Ping-pong tourney puts players through their paces
Championship tests mettle as students return to Fort Simpson with gold

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter may have fallen across the North but that didn't stop three Fort Simpson youth from burning through the competition on Nov. 26 during the 2016 Northwest Territories School Table Tennis Championships in Yellowknife.

NNSL photo/graphic

Val Gendron, left, Ava Erasmus, Katrina Deneron and Mikayla Lafferty played in the 2016 Northwest Territories school championships for table tennis on Nov. 26. The players made their way from Fort Simpson to Yellowknife and won gold in the Grade 12 category. Erasmus also took home the Fair Play award. - photos courtesy of Thorsten Gohl

Katrina Deneron, Ava Erasmus and Mikayla Lafferty, accompanied by chaperone Val Gendron, tested their swing on the table tennis court as representatives of Thomas Simpson Secondary School.

The tournament began with two round robins and culminated in a championship table where all participants played each other, including coaches.

Deneron brought home gold for the Grade 12 Girls section and also won the Most Improved Player award.

Erasmus was named the Fair Play Award winner thanks to her positive attitude and encouraging words. She also helped to umpire some of the matches.

Table tennis fever has been sweeping the Deh Cho for more than a year. This year, Gendron said Thomas Simpson Secondary School usually sees around 10 students at each practice, although they weren't all able to participate in the championship.

Gendron said she was impressed with the improvement she saw in Lafferty, Erasmus and Deneron over the course of the tournament.

"From beginning to end, there was this huge improvement," she said.

"They did really well."

Deneron said she was thrilled to bring home two awards, including a gold medal which came with a racquet.

"I was pretty happy and joyful to learn that I won," she said.

"It was so much fun to meet other students and be able to practise against them in table tennis."

The highlight of the tournament for Deneron came during the championship table where she found herself playing up and down the table.

The championship table is designed so players move up as they win games and down as they lose.

The experience of playing against some of the coaches was especially striking for Deneron.

"I think I probably improved my game because of the good opponents and experience," she said.

Aside from playing, students were also responsible for scorekeeping during the tournament, which Gendron said helped to immerse them more in the game.

"They were smiling and having fun. They're all good sports, so they went and tried their best," she said.

"The highlight for me was seeing the (students) trying a new sport and meeting other kids, and building positive relationships."

Gendron also had high praise for Thorsten Gohl, the executive director of Table Tennis North, who she credited for the students' experience.

"It's thanks to his hard work, and (he) makes it fun," she said.

The championship was co-hosted by Table Tennis North and Weledeh Catholic School.

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