Tough Day for Tasmanian’s but Van Asch through to final 32
The day started with 9 Tasmanian’s taking to the green in the Men’s & Women’s singles knock out stage of the event. For some of our players it was a tough to take that loss but they should all be very pleased with how far they progressed through the event.
In the Women’s draw 3 of the 4 players won their opening encounters with Peri Buckley (Sandy Bay) the biggest winner with a 21-4 score line. Rebecca Van Asch (Invermay) also kept her opponent to single digits with a 21-9 win whilst Kim Saunders had the closest of the 3 victories winning 21-14. The one player to fall at this round was Lyn Page (Howrah). Being given the toughest draw of the round, Page was convincingly beaten on the scoreboard 3-21 by Karen Murphy but played better than that score suggests. For Page, being able to tell all her friends and family that she played against the best female player to have played the game will be a great story to pass on!
Only one more round for the Women remained in the days play with the following matchups taking place. Van Asch vs Joelen Bianchetto (St Johns Park, NSW), Saunders vs Nicole Toomey (NZ) & Buckley vs Yvonne Bekeris (Somerton, SA). Van Asch got off to a shaky start and found herself trailing 1-5, the key was a change in length and Van Asch then turned up the pressure on her opponent. This worked, she gained the upper hand and went on to win 21-11. Buckley got off to a slow start trailing 9-15 before she started to find a rhythm and closed the gap on her opponent. At 15-16 it looked like Buckley had the momentum to come over the top of her opponent but unfortunately it wasn’t to be with Bekeris winning the remaining ends and sealing a 21-15 victory. The closest match of the day involved Saunders & Toomey. The game was close for the entire match but Saunders always had her nose in front and it looked like she was going to do enough to get over the line. But with only 15 minutes to play (the games are timed as well as being 21 up, whichever comes first) Toomey hit the front and it looked like the match was going to be stolen away. But Saunders regrouped, levelling at 18-18. Both players were playing very well, if they got close, the other was never far away from converting. And it would be Toomey who would win the final two ends, leaving Saunders wandering what could have been.
The Women’s event has pretty much gone to plan for the top players. There haven’t been too many major casualties and the final 32 players all look to have the ability to push their opposition. Van Asch comes across Karen Mary Gatto (Adelaide, SA) who has previously played in the SA Premier League for Lockleys. She is a state representative playing lead at the last Sides Championships so Van Asch will know she has a tough game on her hands. Van Asch was feeling good after the day’s play; “It’s always really good to get through the first day of knockout play in each discipline. This is where the hard work really starts.” Most players have had some terrible weather to contend with which would normally play into the Tasmanian’s hands but not so for Van Asch; “I’ve been pretty lucky with my scheduling this week that I seemed to miss the bad weather. The Gold Coast greens are holding up extremely well considering because they drain so well.” And now with 32 players left Van Asch must know she is a chance to be thereabouts for the pointy end of the event; “I’m feeling really good and I really want to be as busy as I can. (In regards to the draw) I don’t really look too far ahead. I just take it one game at a time. I know who I play next round. I played against her in our pairs section. So I’m expecting a tough match tomorrow morning.” Van Asch may not look that extra step ahead but others have and an exciting prospect of Van Asch vs Murphy awaits in the round of 16. Let’s hope that the first hurdle can be overcome and that match eventuates.
The Men’s event was not as kind to the Tasmanian contingent with no-one getting through the 3 games the Men had to play, despite some quality bowls being played by our contingent. Steve Graf (Sandy Bay), Robert McMullen (East Launceston) & Shane Young (Beltana) all got through their first matches with their opponents getting 15, 17 & 16 respectively. It wasn’t a nice day for the Sims brothers. In an ideal world they would have won their first two matches and played off in the final game of the day, but both had defeats with Lachie losing to Nic Gosley (Musgrave Hill) & Michael losing to Scottish international Kevin Anderson. The matchups for the next round looked as followed Graf vs Kris Lehfeldt (Ballina, NSW), McMullen vs Abdul Latif (Broadbeach, Qld) & Young vs Robert Bird (NZ). Young found it very difficult to get in to the second game unable to maintain the high quality of bowls he demonstrated in the first round. Bird running out a 21-9 winner. McMullen played well against Latif but even when Latif played an errant bowl the luck seemed to go his way frustrating the Tasmanian onlookers and I’m sure McMullen too. The 21-11 score line not a true reflection of how McMullen played. In the 3rd match, Graf continued his good form and took it right up to Lehfeldt. But not only did he put the pressure on, Graf was in front and took the game 21-17 to set up a final match of the day against New Zealand International Michael Nagy (Taren Point, NSW).
Graf continued his good form and got off to a great start, leading both 12-6 & 14-8. As expected Nagy was always going to fight back hard and got the margin reduced and now the pressure was on. Just as in Saunders game before the time of the match was coming in to play. Graf had a small margin leading 19-17 but with only 1 or two ends remaining. It was a good end for Nagy picking up a definite two which would take the game to the last end. But there was a chance for a 3rd shot and whilst measuring the bell rang. If the shot was in, the game was over. And cruelly for Graf, Nagy did have 3 and there was no time to make one last come back. Lawn Bowls can be a cruel beast at times.
The remainder of the draw was full of upsets with a lot of the big names not making it through the days play. One player who is garnering attention is Jayden Christie from the Helensvale Bowls Club in Queensland. Not only did he defeat Scottish International Darren Burnett in his second match 21-20 but he put an end to Australia’s premier singles player Aron Sherriff 21-16. Not bad for someone who is only 18 years of age! “It felt great to get through today. I was just happy to be given the chance to play against those great players!” Often when a player has such success in can be difficult to focus again in the next round; “It won’t be easy to forget about them (the 2 upset wins) but I’m just going to think about one game at a time.” Despite his age, Christie has already got the bowls cliché’s worked out but let’s hope we can see someone like Christie make a name for himself during the World’s richest Bowls tournament!
For all scores and fixtures, go to https://sportsdesq.sportstg.com/portal/index.cfm?fuseaction=main&OrgID=16084
Tomorrow the Singles continues, head to the Bowls in Tasmania Updates group on Facebook to get some live scores from during the day.
By David Genford