Former national singles champion Tony Grantham has stamped his class once again, joining recalled Blackjack Kirsten Edwards to take out the inaugural Bowls New Zealand National Champion of Champion Singles, in the men’s and women’s fields respectively.
The event, which saw the provincial champions from each centre converge on the Naenae indoor complex in Lower Hutt over the weekend, marks the final stage of the three-tier run up – with all competitors having previously been required to win their club championships, before going on to win their centre’s champion of champions’ contest.
With some top names among the mix, which included past and present New Zealand representatives and a smattering of high performance talent, the event always promised to be a closely fought affair, throwing up some high profile clashes in both section play and post-section.
Following two days of section play, both the men’s and women’s quarter-finalists were found, with the top two from each section advancing through, edging closer to the sought-after titles and silverware.
The men’s action saw the remarkable consistency of Taranaki’s multiple national champion Dean Elgar come to the fore, topping his section and accounting for Stoke’s John Haddock and National Bowls3Five champion skip Aiden Takarua to set up a blockbuster clash opposite former world bowls representative Tony Grantham in the grand finale.
Grantham, also showing solid form both throughout the event and in the last two seasons, was in equally impressive nick, dispatching Awamoa’s Russell McDonald and home-green favourite Robbie Bird to earn his spot in the big dance.
The final saw Grantham close out the title in clinical fashion, romping to a 21-6 victory over Elgar and rounding out his season in memorable style.
Meanwhile, the women’s action saw a virtual replay of the national singles women’s semi-final, though this time with Edwards turning the results in her favour opposite reigning national women’s singles champion Debbie White.
Also showing promising consistency on the big stage, White, a member of the winning Bowls Hinuera Bowls3Five side, was in commanding form posting victories opposite the high performing Auckland Esther Eu and Southland representative Jo Toogood, 21-14, booking a spot in the final to go head-to-head with Edwards.
In similar results, Edwards, who played a key role in the winning Asia Pacific gold medal showing last week on the Gold Coast in the women’s fours, proved in unstoppable form, dispatching Taieri hopeful Beth Brown and Kapiti Coast representative Audrey Stevenson – with neither opponent reaching double figures.
Carrying her dominance into the final, Edwards ran out a worthy champion opposite White in a closely fought, 21-15 match-up, adding the silverware to her already bulging trophy cabinet, from this season alone.
Other beaten quarter-finalists in the men’s field included Southland’s Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Dunedin’s Paul King, while the women’s field included Arawa’s Jan McLeay and Taranaki’s Rhonda Adams.
With the national champion of champion singles winners now crowned for the 2018/19 season, all focus will turn to next weekend’s action in Dunedin as the men’s and women’s pairs champions from around the country bid for further national recognition.
Results at a Glance
- Grantham V Elgar; 21-6
- Grantham V Bird; 21-14
- Elgar V Takarua; 21-16
- Tony Grantham (Browns Bay, North Harbour) V Russell McDonald (Awamoa, North Otago); 21-15
- Robbie Bird (Naenae, Wellington) V Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Gore, Southland); 21-14
- Dean Elgar (West End, Taranaki) V John Haddock (Stoke, Nelson); 21-18
- Aiden Takarua (Pt Chevalier, Auckland) V Paul King (Andersons Bay, Dunedin); 21-15
- Edwards V White; 21-15
- White V Toogood; 21-14
- Edwards V Stevenson; 21-6
- Jo Toogood (Hokonui, Southland) V Rhonda Adams (Fitzroy, Taranaki); 21-19
- Debbie White (Hinuera, Waikato) V Esther Eu (Blockhouse Bay, Auckland); 21-18
- Kirsten Edwards (Stoke, Nelson) V Beth Brown (Taieri, Dunedin); 21-8
- Audrey Stevenson (Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti) V Jan McLeay (Arawa, Bay of Plenty); 21-18