On Friday (October 4), 32 of New Zealand’s elite youth lawn bowlers will assemble at the Burnside Bowling Club on Christchurch’s Avonhead Road to compete for the title of champion of the Burnside Under 26 Singles tournament.
This event is included in the Bowls NZ 2019 Summer of Bowls programme. Sixteen of these players have worn the silver fern in New Zealand Development teams and Under 18 teams in test matches against Australia, while already three are fully capped Blackjacks. Many of this field will be destined to grace future national teams.
The players, all under 26 years of age, come from all parts of NZ to participate in this unique event in which males and females compete on equal terms over three days. Section play is on Friday and Saturday with four sections of eight players each playing seven games of singles in total. Depending on section play results, the field is then divided into four divisions for post section play of three knockout rounds. The goal of each player is to win a place in Division 1 because this is where the tournament winner will come from and where the largest pool of prize money lies. The finalists will play off on Sunday, 6 October at approximately 10-30 am.
Included in this field are three previous winners – Burnside’s Tayla Bruce (2015), Gore’s Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (2016) and Stokes Valley’s Seamus Curtin (2018), with the latter two being the finalists last year in a gripping game that went right down to the wire.
Three are capped Blackjacks. Twenty five year old Selina Goddard from Auckland’s Belmont Club and Christchurch’s Tayla Bruce (24) have been selected from the NZ High Performance Squad to represent New Zealand against Australia in the November Trans-Tasman Test Series on the Gold Coast in addition to the Multi-Nations event before the tests. Both have previously played 44 games for NZ and both have represented NZ at Commonwealth Games: Selina at the 2014 Glasgow Games where she won a bronze medal in the women’s fours, and Tayla at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Both have won senior national titles. Nineteen year old Seamus Curtin from Stokes Valley in Wellington has been selected to play in the Hong Kong International Classic in November and, the following month, at the 2019 World Junior under 25 Championships in Newcastle, England. Who said Kiwis can’t fly?
The Gore duo of Caleb Hope and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley together with Taylor Horn from Mangere will also be at Broadbeach for the Trans-Tasman as members of the five-man NZ Men’s Development team. The form of 22 year old Taylor Horn, as the current 2019 National Men’s Singles Champion, will be watched closely. In late October-early November, Taylor will represent NZ at the World Singles Champion of Champions in Adelaide.
Local hopes include Elmwood Park’s well performed Mat Bassett and Liam Eathorne, Cashmere’s Braeden Casware and Burnside’s trio of Tayla Bruce, Richard Hocking and current Canterbury Women’s Singles Champion, Cait Bassett.
This tournament always produces some surprises. Two newcomers will be watched with great interest. Paritutu’s 20 year old Aidan Zittersteijn is a Cook Islands national representative who won a bronze medal in the men’s pairs at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Twenty five year old Kaylin Huwyler, who studies in Dunedin but plays out of Durie Hill Bowling Club in Whanganui, is a second year bowler. A talented golfer, Kaylin has represented his province in golf at both junior and senior levels, played for the NZ Maori under-19 golf team and represented NZ at junior level in the United States.
Tournament Convenor Kerrie Bruce is excited about the quality of this group of young players. “There are always favourites but the depth of talent this year means that no one is guaranteed a place in the top eight. Any one of a large number of players can win this event. A feature of this tournament is the camaraderie shown by the players. They play their hardest but no matter the result they enjoy each other’s company. Our Club volunteers involved with the tournament appreciate the sportsmanship and attitude of these young achievers.”
Spectators are welcome; entry is free.
Be prepared to be impressed by the skill and enjoyment on display.
Full details including players’ names, draw and results can be found at www.burnsidebowlingclub.com
by Ken Wilson-Pyne