TONY GRANTHAM AND BRIAR ATKINSON ARE PRESENTED THEIR WINNERS MEDAL AND TROPHY FROM BOWLS NEW ZEALAND PRESIDENT ANN WRIGHT
Hosted at the Bowls Hastings indoor venue, more than 20 centre champions (22 men, 20 women) converged to contest the final stage of a three-tier competition, with play first commencing at club championship level throughout the season. The format required three out of four wins to progress to post-section play, with seven women and nine men qualifying through.
In the women's final, Atkinson, who earlier this year was part of the successful U26 New Zealand side (claiming gold in the women's pairs with Caitlin Thomson), was in impressive form throughout, cutting a calm and composed figure on the carpet with seemingly nothing rattling her. Up against former New Zealand singles champion and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Nicole Toomey (Stokes Valley), both players traded equal blows early doors, though turning up the shot play, Atkinson was relentless in the closing stages, racing out to a 21-13 victory.
The semi-finals saw Atkinson defeat Alexandra's Linley O'Callaghan, 21-7, while Toomey stopped the vastly experienced Audrey Stevenson (Raumati) in her tracks, 21-9.
Beaten quarter-finalists were Jenny Anderson (Picton), Janeen Noble (Takaro) and Julie Adams (Belfast).
Shortly after, Grantham went head-to-head with another rising star of the game, Kaylin Huwyler (Durie Hill) - both putting on a stunning display of bowls in the opening ends. However, Grantham's experience began to tell as the game progressed, with the Auckland representative ruthless in his consistency and seldom opting to play any weighted shots.
Despite Huwyler's best efforts, Grantham proved too strong, closing the game out, 21-8. Though, Huwyler, who was the men's singles gold medallist at the Oceania Challenge representing the Aotearoa Māori line-up and just a fourth-year bowler, proved why he too will be one to watch going into next season - displaying a mature and determined demeanour and taking some high-profile scalps on his way to the final.
The semi-finals saw Grantham defeat Waikiwi's Craig Tinker, 21-13, while Huwyler dispatched Elmwood Park charge Nathan Glasson, 21-12.
Beaten quarter-finalists were Geraldine's Roger Glendinning, Anthony George (Russell), Maurice Symes (Fitzroy) and Garry Cotter (Central Cambridge). Titahi Bay representative Brent Ahern also qualified, but earlier defeated by Glendinning in the opening bye round, 21-20.
Attention now moves to Dunedin this weekend (7-9 July) as the National Champion of Champion Pairs gets underway, with action remaining at the Hopes Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium the following weekend (14-16 July) for the National Champion of Champion Triples.