FAIRBANKS — For the third year in a row, Alan Hoover captured the Open Singles Championship in the Jerry Smith Alaska Hardbat Championships table tennis tournament played Friday and Saturday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty  Center.

The biggest battles in the Open Singles were fought in the first round of the playoffs, with matches determined by winning the best of three games to 21 points.

In the top bracket Eric Carvalho won his right to challenge Hoover in the semifinals by defeating Terry Slocum.

Slocum dominated Carvalho in the first game of the match with his tenacious defense and swift attacks, winning 21-11. Carvalho rebounded in the second game to win 21-15. Carvalho edged out Slocum in the third game, winning 22-20.  

In the semifinals, Hoover overcame Carvalho’s challenge with a 21-15, 21-7 win to claim his seat in the finals.

In the lower bracket, Diann Darnall met Hongkai Zhang. Zhang with his strong, attacking game dominated the first game 21-14.  Darnall turned the tables on Zhang with strong smashes in the second game winning 21-16.

The third and decisive game was a spectators’ delight with each player making incredible returns to maintain long rallies and exciting point wins. Darnall slipped past Zhang 23-21 to move on to the semifinals against Dave DeMay from Eagle River.

DeMay handicapped himself by unknowingly mixing up paddles with another player.  In the first game against Darnall, DeMay was only able to gather nine points. However, by the end of the second game DeMay had adjusted to the new paddle and forged a comeback bring the game to duce at 20-20.  Darnall took the next two points and won the right to meet Hoover for the final showdown.

The championship match brought the Open Doubles Champions from Friday night head-to-head.

Even though the match hosted some long rallies and creative returns, Hoover controlled most of the points with a 21-12, 21-12 victory for his third straight crown.

In the Open Singles Consolation Playoffs, Rick Robertson finished in first place.  Bill Chen was second and Chris Silks was third.

Jane Parrish went undefeated in the Recreation Singles division to capture first place.

Second place went to Carol Johnson and third place went to Aporn Stein.

In the Round Robin Open Doubles, first place went to the team of Darnall and Hoover with four straight wins. Second place went to Bill Chen and Zhang. Third place went to DeMay and Robertson.

In the Round Robin Limited Doubles, the team of Doron Partyka and Chris Silks went undefeated to take the crown. Second place went to Tom Delong and Robertson. Third place medals were earned by Parrish and DeMay.

Special recognition was given to DeMay, who was honnored with the Jerry Smith Spirit of the Game Award.  The award is given to the athlete who has demonstrated sportsmanship, fair play, and love of the game.

“I was so happy that Dave received this award,” Janet Smith said. “He loves table tennis just like Jerry did. Dave is so encouraging to everyone and a very deserving recipient.”

The next table tennis tournament in Alaska will be the Alaska-Yukon Challenge on May 10-11 in Anchorage.

To find out more about table tennis in Fairbanks visit http://fitt-club.net/.

Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.