Van Asch through to the Final Four
The remaining Tasmanian participants of Rebecca Van Asch, Maureen Zoon and Rosie Geeves returned to the Tweed Heads Bowls club for the second round of play today, all facing the early 8am start.
Zoon, playing Australian representative Lynsey Clarke, played very well in the first set, leading Clarke 4-2 at one stage but was unable to hold the lead with Clarke taking the first set 8-5. Geeves found the going tough against Canadian player Kelly McKerihen in the first set going down 3-8. Van Asch faced young gun Natalie Noronha and was the only player of our trip to be successful in the first set winning 8-6.
The second set proved much harder for Zoon. Once Clarke had found her range she was unstoppable and the 12-1 score line showed the class of such a strong opponent. Zoon should be commended for the way she took it up to Clarke early in the first set and should be pleased with her efforts in this event. Geeves performed much better in the second set and only narrowly went down 5-6 in her second set. Once Geeves was able to find her feet in today’s game, she showed she could match it with her more fancied opponent. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to give these players a head start. Van Asch also had a close second set. The score was neck and neck with both players playing some very good bowls but it would be a one shot loss that would force a tie break for Van Asch.
Van Asch was calm and collected in the tiebreak picking up 3 shots in the first end, a difficult situation for Noronha to escape from. A further one for Van Asch on the second end meant she could play very safely in the final end, dropping a two and advancing to the quarter finals.
The quarter finals saw Van Asch return to the green in the afternoon and face good friend and Australian team mate Lynsey Clarke. The quality of bowls was very high in this encounter and Van Asch was looking very solid with a 5-3 lead during the set. The wheels almost fell off when Clarke picked up a 4 to take a 7-5 lead and put Van Asch onto the back foot. Clarke would maintain her lead and take out the first set 9-6. Despite this loss Van Asch was pleased with the way she was playing, “I was happy with my consistency and I just needed to keep that going into the second set” said Van Asch. Van Asch was able to maintain her consistency and her strong mental play came to the fore as she was switched on and ready for the second set, taking four on the first end and third end to lead 9-0 and a commanding position. “I kept trying to just focus on each bowl and forget I was playing Lynsey,” said Van Asch. A 13-3 result for the set ensured an enthralling tie break awaited.
The first end of the tie breaker saw both players put in some great bowls but a crucial trail with her last bowl saw Van Asch lead 2-0. A resting toucher with her first bowl put the pressure onto Clarke who found herself three down after Van Asch’s first three bowls. Clarke was unable to counter Van Asch’s strong play and a 3 on the second end of the tiebreak ensured the last end was not required.
This now sets up a Semi Final clash with 19 year old Dawn Hayman. Hayman has been recently added to the Jackaroos squad and is a player the National selectors will be watching closely. Hayman’s experience with the strong NSW Women’s side in the last few years will hold her in good stead for this match. Hayman’s form can’t be questioned thanks to her defeat of the in-form Carla Krizanic 3-2 in a tie breaker. “I haven’t played Dawn before but I know she’ll be keen to bring her ‘A’ game tomorrow” said Van Asch after she found out who awaited her in the Semi Final.
The other Women’s Semi Final will see Samantha Noronha play Natasha Scott. Noronha defeated Kelly McKerihan 6-0 in the tie breaker and Scott was victorious against Kristy Thatcher 3-1 also in a tie break after Thatcher had earlier defeated Karen Murphy. Scott would have to be the favourite in this match up but Noronha has the big game experience and won’t be worried by Scott’s credentials.
The Men’s side of the draw has set up some exciting clashes for the Tweed Heads crowd. On the top half of the draw defending champion Jeremy Henry will take on Jackaroo Barrie Lester. Lester was outstanding in his morning match against Matthew Mitchell when he was required to draw within 6 inches with his last bowl and without a second thought did so. Henry on the other hand has not lost a set in this tournament and his 11-1, 11-2 demolition of Clive Adams shows that he is the king of this surface and won’t be dethroned easily.
In the bottom half of the draw, the man considered Australia’s number one singles player Aron Sherriff will go into his Semi Final as the heavy favourite vs Melbourne’s Curtis Hanley. Sherriff and Henley have also not lost a set in the first three rounds, so will both fancy their chances to make the final. Hanley started the week by playing club mate Robert Briglia but now finds himself at the pointy end of a tournament that looks like producing an exciting final.
By David Genford