Finalists emerge at Summerset Nationals

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New Zealand Blackjack has made a strong statement at this year’s event, winning his way through to the men’s pairs final and semi-final of the singles.

World number one and most capped Blackjack Jo Edwards has made her presence felt in the women’s singles at the Summerset Nationals, winning her way through to another final, as she eyes her sixth title and third singles crown.

As swirling winds buffeted the Papanui greens at the event headquarters on Tuesday, players battled the conditions as the finalists began to emerge in Christchurch on the penultimate day.

The men’s pairs final will see the Wellington composite of Raymond Martin and Robbie Bennett in action, the same pair previously having success this season at the Paraparaumu 2x 4x 2 Invitational Men’s Pairs.

Their opponents will be Canterbury composite Andrew Kelly and Richard Hocking – Kelly proving to have a long day out on the green, winning all three post-section pairs games, before going on to edge fellow Blackjack Ali Forsyth in a two-shot singles last eight victory.

In what shaped up as a clash of the titans in the women’s pairs, the Blackjack duo of Katelyn Inch and Selina Goddard continued their fine form as they ended any back to back title hopes for reigning champions Val Smith and Lisa Prideaux in a thrilling semi-final.

Earlier in the piece, Blackjack Tayla Bruce and former New Zealand representative Clare Hendra, who is now in the national Talent Squad , booked their place in this year’s final, defeating the well performed Central Otago pairing of Linley O’Callaghan and Christine Buchanan in a comfortable semi-final showing, 22-14.

Inch was notably impressive in her win opposite fellow Blackjack Wendy Jensen in the semi-final clash, taking command early on and romping to a 21-2 victory. Equally impressive was Edwards, who kept former New Zealand international Serena Matthews to four points in the race to 21, advancing through to set up a repeat of 2017 in Dunedin’s women’s singles final opposite Inch.

Meanwhile, Broadbeach-based Scottish international Ryan Burnett, brushed off a disappointing quarter-finals exit in the pairs with Kiwi international Mike Kernaghan – bouncing back with class and overcoming a tough challenge in Dunedin’s Oliver Mason in the men’s singles quarter-final.

Burnett then went on to dispatch Mt Maunganui hopeful Nicholas Tomsett in convincing fashion, and will now await his opponent in the men’s singles final.

Vying for that position is 2017 singles champion and last season’s fours champion skip Dean Elgar once again showing his consistency on the national stage, advancing through to the singles’ semi-final following a 21-16 victory over 1990 singles champion Terry Scott.

Elgar will attempt to temper the sizzling form of Kelly, who not only will be looking to make his second singles final in the last three years, but will be eyeing up a special double – with an eventual win in the pairs and singles adding to his previous two fours’ titles.

All finals will get underway at the Papanui Club from 8.30am on Wednesday.

Men’s Pairs Final
Raymond Martin, Robbie Bennett vs Andrew Kelly, Richard Hocking

Women’s Singles Final
Jo Edwards vs Katelyn Inch

Women’s Pairs Final
Clare Hendra, Tayla Bruce vs Katelyn Inch, Selina Goddard

Men’s Singles
Ryan Burnett vs Kelly/Elgar

Semi Final
Andrew Kelly vs Dean Elgar

by Sam Morton