Bowls New Zealand Summerset Awards 2020 Emerging Player of the Year – Male

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For Raymond Martin, the 2019-20 season was a story of turning potential into performance.
No one has ever doubted the talent of the Wellington bowler, but he hasn’t always achieved the results to match that promise.

That’s all changed after a highly impressive campaign, which has seen Martin recognized as the 2020 Summerset Bowls New Zealand Development Player of the Year.
“It’s just reward,” says Bowls New Zealand high performance manager Kaushik Patel. “He has been performing consistently well but he hasn’t always kicked on. I’m guessing it is just experience and also being part of the high performance program for the first time.”

The high point of his season came at the nationals at the Papanui Club, where Martin took out the pairs title alongside Rob Bennett, defeating Andrew Kelly and Richard Hocking in the decider.

It was his first national title, and a significant breakthrough for the man from the Victoria club in the capital.
“He was very focused on winning it,” says Rachel Curtin, who is his Bowls New Zealand coach. “He had a good partnership, which had been fostered throughout several tournaments. I wasn’t surprised at all with the result; he has been close before and he was ready to shine.”

Martin first turned heads in a big way back in 2015, when he led his Fours team on a fairytale run to the national final. Martin skipped one of the youngest teams that week on the North Shore of Auckland, but they refused to be intimidated by age and experience deficits.

They beat Gary Lawson in the quarter finals, before ousting Rob Ashton in the semi finals, but Peter Belliss and his team proved a bridge too far in the decider.
Martin has been a consistent performer at national level since, but the week in Christchurch could be a bridge to greater achievements. Curtin has certainly noted significant growth, on and off the green.

“He has a more determined, focused approach and has developed more confidence,” says Curtin. “And then he channels it in a way that is more understanding and accepting of others. He feels more confident in himself so can be more himself.”
“He’s really happy with life and has a good balance of work, social, bowls and family. That’s transferred into his ability to be able to go onto the green and know that all of that is sorted and he can perform.”

Curtin has also seen Martin emerge as someone that others can follow.
“He has taken on a leadership role, not only at club level but also in the representative squad,” says Curtin. “He approached that aspect with a methodical, focused approach.”
Last season Martin also took out the Wellington Octagonal and Premier Interclub titles and made the last four of the Wellington Open Fours.

He also swept the world singles and pairs titles  at the Wellington Professional Bowls Association Indoor events and replicated that pairs success at national level. Martin finished the season as the No 1 ranked player in the New Zealand Professional Bowls Association.
He could have had an opportunity to shine even further, but for highly unfortunate circumstances. Martin was in the New Zealand side chosen for the 2019 Hong Kong Classic, but that event couldn’t go ahead due to the riots late last year. He was also selected for the World Indoor tournament in Bristol, which was subsequently cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“You have to feel sorry for him, he’s been selected for two key events and both have been cancelled,” said Patel. “But he will keep going. Raymond has been part of our development squad and he has been doing everything right to become world class.”

Patel also lauded the achievements of Keanu Darby and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, who were the other finalists in this category.