As table tennis grows in the Northwest Territories, so does the competition, as was shown at the fourth annual Table Tennis High School Championships last weekend.

Nathan Cluff serves the ball during men’s singles action at the NWT School Championships. photo courtesy of Thorsten Ghol

It was St Patrick High School and St Joseph school that rose to the top as over 100 student-athletes ranging from Grade 4 to 8 participated in the fourth edition of the annual tournament.

“We had in the first three years about 20 to 25 kids,” said Thorsten Ghol, executive director, Table Tennis NWT. “Last year it was 125 and this year we had over 100. It’s great to see that table tennis, that so many kids that are actually excited to play and want to play. It’s fantastic.”

The weekend started with the double’s brackets taking place throughout the evening on Friday, then the next day it was the single’s tournament that got underway. Each tournament had a Grade 6, Grade 7 and Grade 8 category while high school was grouped into one tournament. The weekend was finished with a skills camp on Sunday hosted by Table Tennis North.

“We had a different kind of setup this time. We didn’t have 16 tables, but only eight,” said Ghol. “It still worked great because we made the centre table look like a professional court so kids would have the feeling of being in a professional table tennis tournament. The overall atmosphere I just absolutely love you know. The kids are standing next to the table and cheering each other. It’s not like it’s a major event where you can stand next to the table or not.”

While it was St Patrick and St Joseph schools taking home the team banners, Ghol said there was one athlete who was the biggest individual winner of the weekend – Zachary Mathison, who is in Grade 4. Mathison was able to best the middle school competition and win the Grade 8 category. He followed that performance with a doubles win in the high school category while playing with his brother Christopher.

“I guess the bigger winner again was Zachary Mathison from Weledeh School who is a Grade 4 and he won the Grade 8 category,” said Ghol.

Moving forward, Ghol said he hopes the tournament will continue to grow. Ghol said he will look to grow the only school-based table tennis tournament next year by actively promoting the school championships.

“For next year we’re going to really make huge advertising for this championship and we are trying to find funding to bring even more schools in,” said Ghol. “Maybe get two gyms at the same time, more tables, more people.”

This year athletes from Weledeh, St Joseph, William MacDonald, Sir John Franklin and St Patrick schools competed from Yellowknife. There was a lone athlete from Deh Gah school in Fort Providence, representing the only athlete to come from outside the capitol.

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