FAIRBANKS — This is the fourth year of the Jerry Smith Alaska Hardbat Championships. It’s also the fourth straight year that Alan Hoover has earned the open A singles title in the two-day table tennis tournament at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center.

Hoover, the circulation manager for the News-Miner, continued his streak Saturday afternoon with a three-game defeat of Diann Darnall who also was the head referee of the tournament.

“The tournament’s fun but this was a lot of pressure — mainly self imposed,” Hoover said by phone. “Everyone played me tougher this year. I don’t know if they were gunning for me or what, but they played me tough.

“I had a lot of close games this time,” he added. 

Darnall achieved a rarity against Hoover — she won a game against him.

“It’s the first time anybody  has ever taken a game off of Alan in a tournament,” Darnall said Saturday at the Patty Center following a limited doubles round-robin match with partner Steve Smith.

“I’m so excited that I got silver and I got a game off of him in a tournament, and that’s never happened to me,” Darnall added.

Darnall and Smith won their limited doubles match against Chirk Chu and Carol Johnson by a score of  21-12, 21-15.

Twenty people, ranging in age from 11 to 66, competed in four divisions — open A and B singles, recreation hardbat singles, open doubles and limited doubles — in the tournament that honors Smith, a former player and vice president of the Fairbanks Interior Table Tennis club. Smith died in 2009.

“He loved hardbat, the spirit of the game and the camaraderie,’’ Darnall said of Smith.

Hardbat table tennis paddles are made of wood with dimples on their heads.

“Darnall was hoping for a larger turnout of players during the weekend.

“We’d love to have more (participants),” Darnall said. “We have tables for more but we just haven’t connected with the people who play recreationally in their basement or their neighbor’s garage. We invite them all to come out because we have another tournament coming up.”

Fairbanks Interior Table Tennis is playing host to its seventh annual Alaska-Yukon Challenge on May 9-10 at the Patty Center. More information about the tournament is available at www.fitt-club.org.

Craig Partyka captured the recreation hardbat title Saturday, winning 22-24, 21-13, 21-9 against Chirk Chu. Eight people competed in the division, which began Friday with pool play matches.

Doron Partyka and Rick Robertson celebrated the open doubles title on Friday. Darnall and Robbie Vehmeier, a UAF student and former West Valley High School tennis player, placed second in the five-team round robin competition. 

Partyka and Robertson posted a 4-0 record while Darnall and Vehmeier went 3-1.

Grant Cummings, who also attends UAF, and Eric Carvahlo placed third. 

The six participants in the open singles started in the A bracket and the top two finishers — Hoover and Darnall — played for the title while the remaining competitors moved into the B division playoffs.

Craig Partyka placed first while Regine Hoch took second. Tom DeLong garnered third place and Johnson finished fourth.

The limited doubles matched wrapped up Saturday. The division featured seven round robin matches before going to a final.

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