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Bowls: King crashes out

PUBLISHED: 08:31 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:48 03 July 2010

AFTER losing out in last year's final, England's Debbie Stavrou went one better yesterday (Wednesday) by clinching the Potters Holidays Ladies World Matchplay Championship title after beating Guernsey's Alison Merrien 12-7, 6-7, 2-1 in a dramatic climax at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.

AFTER losing out in last year's final, England's Debbie Stavrou went one better yesterday (Wednesday) by clinching the Potters Holidays Ladies World Matchplay Championship title after beating Guernsey's Alison Merrien 12-7, 6-7, 2-1 in a dramatic climax at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.

Eager to avenge defeats by Stavrou in the World Bowls Tour event in the two previous years, Merrien took the early lead - but immediately fell behind as her opponent scored three successive triples. The Channel Islander burst back into the game, however, with a sensational full-house four shots, but it was not enough to win the set.

After dropping the first end of the second set, Merrien built up a 4-1 lead - but Stavrou edged ahead by a single shot going into the final end. A double by Merrien took the match into a best-of-three-ends tie-break - which went to the decider before Merrien conceded defeat when her final bowl ended less than inch further from the jack than Stavrou's winning wood.

"I'm so happy," said the 35-year-old from High Wycombe. "It's the first major singles title I have won."

"I felt I played some positive bowls to get the three threes in the first set - but she came back well as I knew she would.

"Having improved on my finish in this event every year, I'm delighted to win the title at last - and I look forward to coming back next year to defend my title.

"This is the best place to bowl," added the new champion. "This is where I want to be.

"Now that I've won this title, my next goal is to qualify for the main open event and compete with the men!"

Of her opponent, Stavrou said: "Alison is great - she's such a good bowler. She's won them all - except for this one!"

Merrien, the reigning Ladies World Cup champion, was measured in her response: "I'm disappointed, but not gutted," said the 34-year-old from Vale.

"After disappointing performances the last two years, at least I feel I have now conquered the portable rink. My game against Ceri Ann Davies (the defending champion) was the best I've played."

England's Greg Harlow, the No2 seed from Ely and a former runner-up, secured a place in the quarter-finals of the World Indoor Singles Championship after beating Irishman Jonathan Ross 5-5, 9-4.

But fellow countryman Mervyn King, the 2006 champion from Norfolk, failed to claim his anticipated place in the last eight after going down 6-8, 8-2, 2-0 to Welshman Robert Weale, the 2000 champion.

"I'm very pleased," said the 45-year-old from Hereford. "Mervyn's been playing well recently and is always a tough opponent.

"That's by far the best I've played on the portable rink all season, particularly after my poor game against Darren Burnett in Burgess Hill; I just didn't turn up," explained Weale.

It was a downhearted King that talked to the press after the game: "I just didn't play well enough. I never nailed the jack with one bowl the whole day.

"I'm disappointed - as I know I can play a lot better than that!"

Thursday (22 Jan) schedule:

World Indoor Singles Championship, 3rd round

9.30am:

[11] Kelvin Kerkow (AUS) v [6] Mark Royal (ENG)

1.00pm:

[5] Paul Foster (SCO) v [12] Billy Jackson (ENG)

[1] Alex Marshall (SCO) v [16] Simon Skelton (ENG)

[9] Ian Bond (ENG) v [8] Andy Thomson (ENG)

Friday (23 Jan) schedule:

World Indoor Singles Championship, quarter-finals:

9.30am:

Paul Foster or Billy Jackson v [13] Les Gillett (ENG)

1.00pm:

Alex Marshall or Simon Skelton v Ian Bond or Andy Thomson

[14] Mark McMahon (AUS) v Kelvin Kerkow or Mark Royal

[10] Robert Weale (WAL) v [2] Greg Harlow (ENG)


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