Blackjack team-mates and Bowls3Five champions will become foes on the opening day of section play at the Summerset National Singles and Pairs in Auckland tomorrow (January 2).
Qualifying in section 16 of the men’s pairs starts with a blockbuster match-up between Mike Kernaghan and Seamus Curtin at the Pakuranga Bowling Club.
Curtin’s Stokes Valley Vipers club-mate Finbar McGuigan is leading for Kernaghan, opposite world singles champion Shannon McIlroy.
Fellow Blackjacks Gary Lawson and Andrew Kelly have joined forces and they also have a marquee day one meeting.
Lawson, a five-time national pairs champion and Kelly, runner-up last year, will square off against 2019 champions Jordan King and Chris Lowe in the third round of section nine at the New Lynn Bowling Club.
They are the highlights of day one of qualifying in the men’s pairs, which will see defending champions Ray Martin and Robbie Bennett play their opening three matches at East Tamaki Bowling Club.
Pairings will have to win four of their six games to advance to post-section play, which starts on Monday (January 4).
Qualifying in the women’s singles will start and finish tomorrow, with four rounds of section play scheduled.
In the absence of defending champion Katelyn Inch and the newly retired Jo Edwards, Stoke Stakes champion Tayla Bruce will start as one of the favourites.
Recent international Wendy Jensen looms as the biggest threat in her section at the Browns Bay Bowling Club and the two will meet in a potentially pivotal final round game, with three wins needed to progress to post-section play on Sunday (January 3).
Other highlights in section play of the women’s singles are former Blackjack Angela Boyd up against emerging talent squad member Leeane Poulson in opening round action at Mairangi Bay, while Bowls3Five rivals Nicole Toomey and Ashleigh Jeffcoat will square-off in round four of section seven at Howick.
2019 singles winner Debbie White is in section eight at Blockhouse Bay Bowling Club, along with seven-time national champion Mandy Boyd, but they have avoided each other in qualifying.
Blackjack squad members Val Smith and Selina Smith (nee Goddard) are both in section one at Carlton Cornwall Bowling Club, but they too won’t meet in qualifying.
Section play in the women’s singles and men’s pairs starts at 8:30am tomorrow (January 2).
The first national title will be handed out two days later when the women’s singles final is played at Carlton Cornwall in Epsom.
The men’s pairs final will follow on January 5, when qualifying will then start in the women’s pairs.
Section play in the men’s singles will get underway on January 6, with the final two title matches on January 8.
The disabled and blind national singles and pairs will also take place from January 4-7.
All finals will be broadcast on Sky Sport Next.