Australian Open finishes, Van Asch wins Silver
The 2017 Australian Open has come to a close. The Women’s Pairs Final didn’t finish the way that we wanted but you can’t win them all! It’s been an amazing two weeks and in this article we have a quick look at the final but also talk to a range of people and what the Australian Open meant to them. From Champions to those that want to be champions, it sounds like a great experience that everyone should try and be a part of.
It’s always difficult to go back to back at the Australian Open and to simply have the chance is an amazing feat. But for both teams to meet each other in the final, is beyond all expectations. Ellen Ryan & Julie Keegan were out for revenge after Anne Johns & Rebecca Van Asch had defeated them in 2016 and revenge was what they got. A 0-8 start for Van Asch was far from ideal and with Ryan & Keegan in such good form, it was always going to be tough to balance the ledger. Things didn’t get much better over the next few ends, 1-15 at the half way stage looked a task to far for our combination. Johns & Van Asch started to win some ends but it was too little too late with Keegan winning 17-8. Not the ideal way to finish the tournament but there were many players that would have loved to have been in Van Asch’s situation of playing in a final. If you didn’t get to see the match on Foxtel, then check in with Bowls Australia’s new feature “The Bowls Clubhouse”. Hopefully the match will be added over the next few months. https://thebowlsclubhouse.com.au/videos/
The 2017 Australian Open has now come to a close. $250,000 of prize money has been handed out, across a variety of disciplines and events. To see the full results go to https://sportsdesq.sportstg.com/portal/index.cfm?fuseaction=main&OrgID=16084
Let’s take some time to talk with some of the players who have been playing over the last two weeks.
First of all, the star of the moment Ellen Ryan. Ryan won the Singles, for the second time, won the Pairs as mentioned above and also was the Runner Up in the Fours, a wick away from winning all three titles. Can such a strong performance vault her into Commonwealth Game selection? Let’s see what Ryan had to say. When comparing her different titles; “I think winning the singles for a second year was the stand out, the first time (2 years ago) it all didn’t sink in until I was flying home and it was all over. But I absolutely loved giving the pairs another crack with Julie after coming runner up with her last year.” I mentioned to her that she broke the hearts of the Tasmanians by taking the pairs title, “Jimmy (Anne Johns) and Bec are both great players of our sport and it was played in great friendship so it was great to get a little pay back and make it 1 all this year. It’s crazy how after all these games we both made the final once again. Last year I felt I didn’t play strong enough, so I knew I had to really knuckle down and give Julie Plenty of bowls to work with.” So does Ryan think these 2 weeks is enough to justify Commonwealth Games selections? “Comm games is sitting at the back of my head but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. The Aussie squad has such great players like Bec in it and it will be very tough to crack the top 5.” She is right! If you had Ryan to the squad of 6 that played in the Trans-Tasman series, which 2 players miss out? I think November is when the decision is made and I’m glad to not be one of the selectors!
The Men’s Singles champion was Nathan Pedersen from South Australia. Pedersen has had some great success in this event and as you can expect was pleased with his singles win; “It feels really amazing to have won four Aussie Open titles in 3 years, and to also now have won one in each discipline”. The singles event often has a little bit more prestige than the team events, as it is only you that can win you the title. But doe Pedersen rank this above his other titles? “I don’t think I can compare them too much, winning any title at the AO is great!” With such success could Pedersen be a bolt from the blue for the Commonwealth Games? “My next step is to try and get into the Australian Jackaroos squad.” If he can achieve that and continues to win, maybe it will be Pedersen leading the way for Australia in the future?
Another winner was Ryan Burnett, who although is Scottish, has been living on the Gold Coast with Broadbeach his home. Burnett travelled down to Tasmania last year to play in the Mad Dog Singles and will be back in 2017, maybe that is why he went on to win the Men’s Fours? Or was it something to do with having the World number 1 player as his skip? How did it feel for Burnett to win the Fours title? “It feels fantastic to win the Aussie open fours and it’s extra special to do so with arguably three of the best players in the world. To be asked to play with the guys was amazing, to win it and do so for Alex’s mum who sadly passed away was incredible!” For those that don’t know, Burnett had his brother playing with him; “Yes it’s very special to have Darren play alongside me but not just that, Paul and Alex are two of my best mates in the game as well and fantastic bowlers too! Definitely my best experience in bowls playing in this fours team.” With Burnett basing himself away from home, this hasn’t sat well with the Scottish selectors, could a result like this help him be a smoky for the Commonwealth Games? “It’s probably a step to soon, however I feel I have helped my chances for future selections but I suppose you never know!” And of course the most important question, is Burnett looking forward to returning to Tasmania? “Definitely, the Mad Dog singles is a fantastic tournament, and definitely one of my favourites. I can’t wait to head down to play in it again in September, always something I look forward to!!”
It wasn’t just Van Asch that led the way for the Tasmanian women. Candice Hodgetts, Deb Lee & Kim Sanders all won through each section they played in and in teams play were only ever defeated by the eventual winners. Here is what Saunders had to say about the event, “We loved it, except the weather!!! It’s a great tournament and is a great benchmark. The highlight for me was making it through all three sections, getting into second round of the post sectionals and getting into the quarter finals of the fours with a great bunch of girls, we had fun, played good bowls and supported each other.” And that is what this event is about, enjoying your bowls, having fun and hopefully putting a few wins together. Will they be back to repeat their feats next year? “Hopefully we will be back next year with the same crew and we can take it deeper into the competition.” We hope so too, the women all played very well and should be pleased with their achievements.
It’s not just state players that enjoyed themselves. Peri Buckley had a great tournament, winning some sections and advancing to the post sectional play. “I’d love to come back again. It’s a great experience, if not playing, watching. You can learn heaps and I’m continually amazed by the skill of some players.” With no qualifying needed, it means players of all skill levels can come and try their hands at this event. “Anyone can have a go and there is a fantastic atmosphere around the clubs. I love the opportunity to play different opposition and would encourage anyone to be part of it all. Because it’s an open draw there could be chance to play anyone.” Buckley is correct, just like our Tasmanian Men that got to play Alex Marshall or to our Women that had to take on Karen Murphy, they are big stories to take back to your local clubs!
Jarrah Allan not only turned up to play bowls but also found himself as a bowl by bowl commentator as some of his friends advanced in different events, “I enjoyed the tournament regardless of my poor results. I feel I should have won my singles section with the player I beat winning the section. My best game, was also the best experience and highest quality. It was a 1 shot lost skipping against Nathan Rice in the Men’s fours with my rink being a last minute throw together rink. Also I got to go up against Shannon McIlroy in the fours as well. I got the most enjoyment from watching and commenting matches and it is something I’ll look to do more of in the future.”
You didn’t have to be successful to have a good time at the Australian Open. Alison Chamberlain and Bill Mottershead both went up to play and had a great experience. First Chamberlain “It’s an awesome experience. I loved the opportunity to play in a vent like this. To all those players reading this and staying at home, I say get along and try it!” And Mottershead who played and then watched a lot of bowls over the two weeks, “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and opportunity to play at the highest level. I came with no expectations and won a game in each of the three disciplines so was absolutely delighted. I Spent most of my non-playing time watching the other games and took in all the semis and finals. My advice to others is to embrace the opportunity to possibly play against the best, involve yourself in the whole experience and above all enjoy your bowls!” Bill is right on the money with that advice. Could it be you playing against the World’s best in 2018? Why not!
Thanks to everyone who has been reading the articles from the Australian Open. Hopefully we have been able to make you feel part of the experience and have kept you up to date with how the Tasmanian players have been playing as well as some honorary Tasmanians! It may be the off season but there is still bowls opportunities out there! Hopefully you have a team entered in the BPL Cup and it might be you playing on TV later in the year!
By David Genford