Stavrou retains ladies matchplay crown

DEBBIE Stavrou successfully retained her Potters Holidays Ladies World Matchplay Championship title after beating old rival Alison Merrien.It was the pair's second successive meeting in the final - and again Merrien extended the favourite to a tie-break before Stavrou secured a 9-7, 5-9, 2-0 victory.

DEBBIE Stavrou successfully retained her Potters Holidays Ladies World Matchplay Championship title after beating old rival Alison Merrien.

It was the pair's second successive meeting in the final - and again Merrien extended the favourite to a tie-break before Stavrou secured a 9-7, 5-9, 2-0 victory.

With the second seed from Guernsey holding two shots in the final end of the first set, Stavrou had a lucky break when she scored a double to win the set.

However, Merrien took control in the second to win by a four-shot margin. But her form ran out in the tie break as Stavrou celebrated her second world title at Potters Leisure Resort.

"I knew before we went on that the game would go to a tie-break, so I wasn't worried when Alison won the second set," said the 36-year-old from High Wycombe.

"I felt a bit fortunate to get the first set - but I knew that whichever bowl I got, I could get a result, as Ali hadn't got a bowl at the back.

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"I'm so happy to win the title again," added the new champion. "This is the best place to bowl - I love being here, I love the audience and I love the experience. I just want to keep coming back.

"I've got so much respect for Ali - she's won everything."

Merrien, who has now lost to Stavrou four years in a row at Potters, was devastated by the defeat: "I just didn't feel comfortable out there today. I struggled to find a length I was happy with. My first bowl was always short. I'll get her one day.”

Earlier in the day in the World Singles Championship, unseeded John Price, the 1990 champion, celebrated a 9-7, 9-6 upset over fellow Welshman Jason Greenslade, the No 7 seed.

Since slipping out of the top 16 last season, 49-year-old Price has struck a rich vein of form - and will now make an appearance in the last eight for the first time since 2005.

"I wasn't playing that badly before - nobody was hammering me and people had to play well to beat me," explained the Welsh Wizard from Port Talbot, currently ranked 18 in the world.

"I've worked at my game and have been practising a lot here, both early in the morning and late at night.

"I'm enjoying it - and I'm dangerous," concluded Price.

In the final match of the day, England's 2006 runner-up Greg Harlow ended qualifier Ben Twist's gallant run, beating the 19-year-old Australian from Brisbane 10-5, 9-7 to reach the last eight for the sixth time since his first appearance in 1996.

Friday schedule:

10am

World Singles Championship, quarter-finals:

Nick Brett (ENG) v [6] David Gourlay (SCO)

1.00pm

[5] Greg Harlow (ENG) v [4] Paul Foster (SCO)

John Price (WAL) v [Q] Stewart Anderson (SCO)

7.30pm

[16] Jonathan Ross (IRE) v [Q] Robert Paxton (ENG)

Saturday schedule:

10am

World Singles Championship, semi-finals:

Ross/Paxton v Harlow/Foster

2pm

Brett/Gourlay v Price/Anderson