Southerners claim three of five titles

Photo: Hawkes Bay Today
Photo: Hawkes Bay Today
Southern bowlers dominated at the National PBA finals in Hastings over the weekend, featuring in all five finals and winning three of the five titles on offer.

The highlight of the weekend was the victory of Dunedin Region world open pairs champions Mario Sopp and Helen Carman. The combination will now represent New Zealand at the world open pairs, at Potter’s Resort in Norfolk, England, in January.

Victory for Sopp further highlights the potential within smaller clubs.  A representative of the Bluff Club until he transferred to Dunedin and became a member of the Brighton Club for this season’s PBA, Sopp had not won a pairs match in his three previous seasons in the Southland region competition.

Making the journey north, he came under the guidance of Dunedin Region co-ordinator Ken Walker, and was teamed up with former New Zealand orienteering representative and second-year PBA bowler Helen Carman (Taieri).

While Sopp has been impeccable in his role as skip  throughout the season, lead Carman has been a  model of consistency.

This was demonstrated in Hastings where the pair eliminated some fancied combinations. The southern pair beat Hawkes Bay favourites John McLaughlin and Aaron Bryant 10-4, 7-6 in the quarterfinal, Richard Corry and Laurie Guy, of Wellington, 10-7, 3-9, 2-1 in the semifinal  and Neil Fisher and Steve Cox, of North Harbour,  4-10, 11-5, 2-0 in the final.

Victory in the world open pairs at the weekend for Carman opened the door for an invitation to the ladies invitation singles and world mixed pairs competitions, in England in January.

Dunedin’s Elliott Mason overcame some close encounters in national final play for the international singles and the right to represent New Zealand at the world finals in Blackpool, England, in March.

As evidenced in the Dunedin Region playoffs, Mason is most dangerous when under pressure.

In quarterfinal play, he defeated Chris Lourie, of Waikato,  9-8, 8-6 in two close sets. Then he clawed his way through the semifinal to knock out Bruce Hall, of New Plymouth, 11-3, 3-11, 2-0. In the final he defeated Lisa White, of  Wellington 14-4, 9-5.

The customary curtain-raiser to the finals weekend, the Shanghai singles, had a delayed start due to flight and weather-enforced delays. But it was Southland region representative Brent Webster who secured the national title in a two-pronged Southland final in which he defeated Kerry Heffer, of Southland,  and Taranaki’s Allan Batley 31-19-17.

In other results, Dunedin Region representative Duane White’s unbeaten run came to an end in the world singles final when he succumbed to 2017 PBA rookie of the year Ray Martin (Wellington) 9-7, 9-1.

Southlander Craig Tinker notched some impressive victories in quarterfinal and semifinal play before going down fighting in the final against Murray Glassey 9-7, 8-7.

Glassey’s victory earned him the right to represent New Zealand in the Scottish singles in Perth, Scotland, in November.

The accolades kept coming for southern represenatives at the presentation ceremony when Craig Merrilees was promoted to New Zealand’s No1 PBA bowler and fellow Invercargill bowler Lyal Spencer  won the prestigious rookie of the year trophy.

- Wayne Parsons

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