Clarrie Dunbar ace Graham Shadwell, who came back from the world outdoor championships in Adelaide in December with a bronze medal, has regained the Warner Leisure Hotels national indoor Champion of Champions title he first won in 2005.
While other local hopes like Neil Smith, from Swindon Westlecot, and Clevedon’s international star Stef Branfield fell at the first hurdle, 37-year-old Shadwell opened his bid with 21-13 wins over Croydon’s Alan Binns, and Lee Barber, from Bounds Green.
In the semi-finals, he scored a last-end treble to edge home, 21-17 against his England team-mate Neil McKee, from top Northampton club Kingsthorpe, and then proceeded to score a convincing 21-13 final victory over Travis Meller, a prodigious teenager from the Isle of Wight.
Doreen Hankin, 67, an experienced international player from Egham, proved too strong for Torquay United’s Sophie Tolchard – 21-year-old sister of Sam Tolchard – in the women’s final, winning 21-14.
Tolchard was favourite to win the title after beating England international Katherine Hawes 21-8 and slow-motion Geordie Pat Browne on her way to the semi-finals, where she toppled the defending champion Katherine Rednall, from Ipswich, 21-17.
Smith lost 21-15 in the first round to Tony Webb, from Hitchin, who also beat him at the same stage two years ago, while Branfield made a brave recovery from 5-18 down before losing by the same score to Portsmouth’s Rosemary Bailey.
Meanwhile, in Blackpool, a hastily-arranged Co-operative Funeralcare WBT International Open, which takes the place of the cancelled Welsh Grand Prix, got underway on Sunday – at Newton Hall.
Torquay’s Jamie Chestney pulled off the first big shock, bringing Scotland’s new world indoor singles champion Stewart Anderson down to earth with a bump in the first round on Monday.
More shocks may lie in store, because the event is being played on the Newton Hall club carpet, so the world’s top 16 have lost the advantage they gain from playing on the portable rink.
The cream of England’s young bowlers take on the best of Ireland, Scotland and Wales next weekend in the men’s and women’s under-25 internationals in Newport and Bromsgrove respectively.
England won both British junior team titles last year, but the national selectors have been forced into making changes because the old enemy ‘anno domini’ decrees that several players are no longer eligible for the competition.
Louis Ridout, who plays outdoors for Ilminster and Somerset, will line up in the men’s event, while three Somerset players – Laura Holden, Kirsty Hembrow and Stef Branfield – are hoping to help England retain the women’s title.
Holden will lead on what looks to be a very strong rink, with Norfolk duo Louise Catchpole and Rebecca Field mid-rink, and Lincolnshire’s Annalisa Bellamy at skip.
For the first time at international level, Somerset duo Hembrow and Branfield will form the back-end of a rink, and they are confident they will get good support from 17-year-old Ipswich prodigy Katherine Rednall at lead and Swale star Jody Clinch, who will play second.
Youth bowls is booming in the south west: a young bowls team from Jersey will fly into Bristol on Sunday for a special two-day international challenge match against Bristol’s youngsters in the impressive arena in South Liberty Lane.
On Monday, the Bristolians and the Channel Islanders will clash at fours and triples, and on Tuesday they will focus on pairs and singles, with all matches being decided on a best-of-two sets basis, with a best-of-three ends tie-break to separate the teams if they win a set apiece.
“There will be no ‘dead-ends’,” explained tournament organiser Thomasina Goodman, “If the jack goes off-rink, it will be re-spotted, just as they do in the professional tournaments and as seen on television.”
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire have nominated Ben Coldrick , Jack Daniels and Adam Smith for an under-18 international trial. All three play at the MidGlos club in Brockworth, and have represented the county in the Liberty Trophy and national under-25 Double Rink championship this season.
When Devon under-21s defeated Somerset under-25s 94-59 in the first-ever mixed game between the two counties, Bristol trio Matt Bartlett, Ben Beames and Adam Sparey were making their debut for the home side.
Taunton Deane star Levi Hembrow, who has made great strides this winter, skipped Somerset’s only winning rink, beating Richard Tremain’s Devon quartet 21-16.
Barrie Smith, John Merchant, Mike Davies and Don Fowkes have qualified for the final stages of the national over-60 fours championship, which will be played in Melton Mowbray later this month.
Derbyshire-born Fowkes, who is Somerset’s Middleton Cup and Liberty Trophy team manager, skipped the Taunton Deane quartet to a 19-18 win over Clarrie Dunbar’s Duncan Baxter, Kenny Wilkins, Alan Brown and Mike Sawyers.
The Cotswold club, in Stroud, is justifiably proud of its record since it moved to new premises in 2006, when it said goodbye to the makeshift building that was once a brewery in the appropriately named Merrywalks.
“The new indoor site was completed nearly seven years ago, with a mortgage of £300,000,” said club competitions secretary Mervyn Ind. “Since then we have added an outdoor green, an outdoor toilet block, a conservatory (dining area) and paid off the mortgage.”
Ind is intensely proud of the way his fellow club members have rallied round: “All this has been achieved because we pay no wages and rely on the many voluntary hours given by some members,” he explained.
Next Tuesday sees the start of the final stages of the national championships in Northampton, where 32 teams, who have survived the gruelling play-offs, will arrive from all over England to compete for the national mixed pairs title.
Caroline Venn and Barrie Forse, from Weston St Andrews, who will play a Folkestone pair, and Bristol duo Ros Constant and Chris Keating, who meet a husband-and-wife team from Plymouth, will make an early start in the morning session.
But 17-year-old Lucy Smith and her dad Neil, from Swindon Westlecot, will have to wait until after lunch, before taking on the defending champions, Barbara Lewis and Chris Moore, from Barwell in Leicestershire.
Co-operative Funeralcare WBT International Open at Blackpool Newton Hall – first round (seedings in brackets): S Skelton (England) (8) bt J Ng (Hong Kong) 10-7, 11-1; R Paxton (England) (10) bt R Owen (Wales) 10-2, 8-4; D Gourlay (Scotland) (1) bt J Carpenter (Australia) bt 8-4, 8-8; N Brett (England) (16) bt S Coleman (Ireland) 10-3, 4-11, 2-0; J Chestney (England) bt S Anderson (Scotland) (9) 8-6, 10-2; M Royal (England) (7) bt S Kennedy (Scotland) 9-4, 7-3; J Ross (Scotland) (11) bt R Field (England) 11-6, 4-6, 2-0; M Dawes (England) bt J Greenslade (Wales) (14) 7-9, 10-6, 2-1; J Price (Wales) (12) bt J Bradford (USA) 12-1, 8-5; D Burnett (Scotland) (4) bt M Bester (Canada) 2-11, 7-6, 2-1; A E Thomson (England) (5) v A Lusby (New Zealand) 9-6, 5-5; M King (England) (6) bt M Moritz (South Africa) 11-3, 13-2; A Marshall (Scotland) (13) bt D Kontente (Israel) 14-4, 8-6; P Briscoe (England) bt R Weale (Wales) (15) 11-8, 8-6;
England teams for the British under-25 internationals, February 9/10 – Men’s series in Newport, Rink 1: B Suggitt (Thornaby), A Clipston (Alfreton), M Hughes (Featherstone), S Tolchard (Torquay United). Rink 2: S King (Gallow), M Orrey (Grantham), C Yeomans (The Parks), W Willgress (Norfolk BC). Rink 3: M Spencer (Spalding), M Puckett (Moonfleet), L Ridout (Torquay United), P Martin (Swale). Rink 4: * A Liddell (York), * M Whyers (Spalding), * D Morris (Wey Valley), J Walker (Wellingborough). Reserves: B J Byles (Desborough), N Voss (Dorchester).
Women’s series in Bromsgrove, Rink 1: Z Eagles (York), C Tomlin (Boston), S Tolchard (Torquay United), L Kuhler (Adur). Rink 2: L Holden (Clevedon), L Catchpole (Norfolk BC), R Field (Norfolk BC), A Bellamy (Spalding). Rink 3: * K Rednall (Ipswich), J Clinch (Swale), K Hembrow (Taunton Deane), S Branfield (Clevedon). Rink 4: * C Lenton (Torquay United), * P Dennis (Swale), L Copeland (Hartlepool), A Stanton (Malvern Hills). Reserves: R Carter (Norfolk BC), R Wigfield (Desborough, Northants). Team manager: M Monkton (Yeovil).
EIBA All-England Mixed fours championship, first round at Northampton (February 12): Shrewsbury v Mid Suffolk; C Venn & B Forse (St Andrews) v Folkestone; Hartlepool v City of Ely; S & S Tolchard (Torquay United) v Desborough (M); R Constant & C Keating (Bristol) v H & M Avent (Plymouth); Northampton v West Denton; Adur v Boston; Falcon v Beccles; Barwell v L & N Smith (Westlecot); Copeland v Egham; Riverain v Chawton Park; Barking v Isle of Wight; Lincoln v A Williams & C Cook (Moonfleet 2000); Angel (Tonbridge) v Norfolk; South Forest v Croydon; Glebelands v York.
EIBA women’s inter-club championship (Yetton Trophy), quarter-finals: Bournemouth bt Taunton Deane 81-76 – Rink scores (Bournemouth skips first):- At Bournemouth: V Mansell 14, D Routley 24; B Streeter 28, W Merchant 15. At Taunton: S Dadson 23, K Hembrow 18; J Halliwell 16, S Evans 19. Other results: Lincoln bt York 71-63; Cambridge Chesterton bt Norfolk 91-62; Egham bt Jacks Centre 97-58.
EIBA women’s inter-club championship (Yetton Plate), quarter-finals: At Loddon Vale – Egerton Park bt Nailsea 67-62 – Rink scores (Egerton Park skips first): M Hendle 16, N Reid 12; M Carrie 23, R Hellens 11; J Pilcher 15, P Crawshaw 16; L Kemp 13, M Lewis 23. Other results: Durham bt Barwell 80-69; Riverain bt Peterborough 100-64; Folkestone bt Tye Green 90-66.
EIBA women’s inter-club ‘A’ team championship (Vivienne Trophy), quarter-finals: At Loddon Vale: Arun bt MidGlos 100-55 – Rink scores (Arun skips first): F Ireland 30, J White 13; B Jones 25, P Stiley 18; C Horsley 18, W Manns 15; M Brown 27, J Smith 9. Other results: St Neots bt York 72-71; Beccles bt Havering 93-82; Camberley bt Ashford 84-66.
Warner Leisure Hotels EIBA men’s and women’s Champion of Champions singles at Hayling Island – Men, 1st rd: T Webb (Riverain) bt N Smith (Westlecot) 21-15; D Denison (Torquay United) bt D Rogers (Loddon Vale) 21-10; T Meller (IoW) bt R Sydney (White Oak) 21-19; W Willgress (Norfolk IBC) bt M Royal (Mid Suffolk) 21-12; G Shadwell (Clarrie Dunbar) bt A Binns (Croydon) 21-13; L Barber (Bounds Green) bt M Orrey (Grantham) 21-15; N McKee (Kingsthorpe) bt R Robinson (Erewash) 21-11; G R Smith (Sunderland) bt G Skipp (Hartlepool) 21-18. Quarter-finals: Meller bt Willgress 21-12; Denison bt Webb 21-17; Shadwell bt Barber 21-13; McKee bt Smith 21-7. Semi- finals: Meller bt Denison 21-18; Shadwell bt McKee 21-17. Final: Shadwell bt Meller 21-13.
Women, First round: D Hankin (Egham) bt L Cutmore (Hornsea) 21-6; A Bowden (Bridport) bt P Strong (Lincoln) 21-15; R Bailey (Victory) bt S Branfield Clevedon) 21-15; P Kirk (Herga) bt W King (Swale) 21-19; S Tolchard (Torquay United) bt K Hawes (Oxford & District) 21-8; P Browne (The Parks) bt J Roylance (North Walsham) 21-11; K Rednall (Ipswich) bt J Redfern (Rugby) 21-14; B Lewis (Barwell) bt M Oram (Northampton) 21-4. Quarter-finals: Hankin bt Bowden 21-18; Kirk bt Bailey 21-4; Tolchard bt Browne 21-6; Rednall bt Lewis 21-10. Semi finals: Hankin bt Kirk 21-14; Tolchard bt Rednall 21-17. Final: Hankin bt Tolchard 21-14.
County matches, at Taunton Deane: Cornwall bt Somerset 122-105 – Rink scores (Corn skips first): M Tout 18, D Bailey 21; J Martin 29, R Scott 6; P Lawrence 22, T Willis 16; M Jennings 10, J Capon 25; R Priestley 18, M Beale 22; K Corris 25, T Steer 15. At Honiton: Devon u21 bt Somerset u25 94-59 – Rink scores (Devon names first): J Smith, N James, D Tuckett, J Melmore 25, J Goodland, K House, G Aldridge, D Taylor 13; B Francis, S Eveleigh, H Morfey, J Hampton 27, K Manns, M Bartlett, T Adams, T Shattock 11; J Heard, J Gooder, C Hadfield, R Tremain 16, C Francis, S Crouch, A Sparey, L Hembrow 27; P Davies, K Kniveton, J Smith, L Crawford 26, B Beames, C Seers, R White, L Holden 14.
Warner Leisure Hotels Wessex League – North Region: Malvern bt MidGlos B 129-44 (16-0); MidGlos bt Cotswold B 118-55 (16-0). Midland Region: Daventry bt Nomads 83-60. East Region: West Berks bt Westlecot 79-73 (12-4); Oxford City & County bt Oxford & District 81-79 (12-4); Loddon Vale bt Carterton 81-78 (14-2). Coastal Region: Moonfleet bt Bridport 108-58 (14-2); Bournemouth bt Moonfleet B 109-47 (16-0). Central: Bristol bt Purnell 81-63 (14-2).