DEFENDING men’s and women’s champions Katrina Wright and Brett Wilkie had mixed results in defence of their titles on day one of the $30,000 Australian Indoor Bowls Championships at Tweed Heads Bowls Club yesterday.
Wright was pushed to a tie-breaking three-end set to claim victory over Queensland’s Kiana Anderson but Wilkie, the number one seed and rated number four in the world, succumbed to New South Welshman Richard Hadley in a match also extended to a tie-breaker.
Wilkie started the rich tournament in top style, winning the first of the nine-end sets 9-3 but Hadley evened the score by claiming a cliff-hanger second set 6-5.
Hadley was always in command in the tie-breaker, winning 4-0 in a boilover.
Wright’s defence began poorly, losing the opening set 10-6, before keeping her hopes alive with an 8-3 victory in the second.
The champion and number one women’s seed was on song in the tie-breaker, keeping her opponent scoreless in snaring the match 5-0.
Cabramatta’s glamour girl Karen Murphy, who spends as much time on the Tweed outdoor and indoor greens as she does her home greens in Sydney, started her campaign with a hard-fought 9-3 6-6 win over fellow New South Welshwomen Lisa Mitchell.
Murphy, the number two seed this year, has a liking for the Tweed Heads indoor greens. Her only hiccup was an early exit last year when she was lining up for her fourth successive victory in the championships.
One of the more interesting battles on day one was the match between number five seed Kay Moran and Queenslander Tracy Foster.
Foster was on fire in the opening set and blitzed her rival 12-1 but somehow the New South Wales fifth seed regained her composure and touch to square the ledger with a heart-stopping 10-8 win in the second set.
The tie-breaker was equally as enthralling, with Moran edging out her rival 3-2 and probably heading to the bar for something to calm the nerves.
Warrilla’s Leif Selby, runner-up to Kelvin Kerkow in the Golden Nugget Singles a fortnight ago on the Tweed outdoor greens, kicked off his tournament in style yesterday, ousting Queenslander Peter Ward with a 7-5 10-7 victory.
Selby, the second seed, was bitterly disappointed by his performance in the Golden Nugget and has come to town keen to atone.
“I left my best form in the earlier games but full credit to Kelvin,” Selby said after the Golden Nugget final.
There is no Kerkow standing in his way this time and going on the touch he displayed yesterday, he will prove very hard to hold out come finals day on Thursday.
Round two and the quarter-finals will be played today.
Both women’s semi-finals and the first men’s semi-final will be played tomorrow and on Thursday the second men’s semi will precede the women’s final at 11am and the men’s final at 2pm.
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