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June 15th, 2017:

OBA Under 25s Singles

After a full day of high quality bowling at Kidlington Bowls Club last Sunday, Shane Cooper of Watlington and West Witney’s David Leighfield qualified for the National Championships in the Under 25s singles.

A total of seventeen players entered the competition meaning a preliminary round played prior to the day. This game resulted in a three shot win for Thame’s Jonathan Dadson over Watlington man Will Soden, making a welcome return to bowls after a couple of years away from the sport.

This set up a first round clash between Dadson and his Thame team mate, Matt Canfield resulting in a comfortable victory for Dadson. Harvey Alder (West Witney) got off to a good start against Woodstock’s Ben Dickson, just returned from his first year at Reading University, eventually winning 21-14. Leighfield started the defence of his title with a 21-12 win over Darren Wakeman who, it’s great to see, is also back bowling again after a few years out. Two same club affairs followed with Shane Cooper, in his last year in the juniors, overcoming Watlington clubmate Rob Parkes 21-13, and Orren Bennett, Carterton, beating newcomer and team mate Joe Justin, who with Parkes, Canfield and Dadson was making his first appearance in the event. Joe Glenn of City & County overcame Watlington’s Brandon King 21-11 and in the closest game of the round Bradley Squires squeezed past Dan Swanson, another Watlington player, 21-20.

The Quarter Finals saw Dadson v Alder; Sam Watts, Watington, who received a walkover in the first round due to transport problems for Thame’s Tom Tisbury, v Leighfield; Cooper v Bennett; and, Glenn v Squires.

All four games provided the spectators present with some fantastic play and no shortage of drama. In the end Alder’s experience served him well, as fifteen year old Dadson pushed him all the way, to see out a 21-16 victory. Leighfield beat Watts 21-13 in a game where the score could quite easily been much closer while it took all of Cooper’s experience to get past Bennett 21-19. The final game of the round again could have gone either way but saw a third West Witney semi finalist as Squires edged through by two shots 21-19.

The first semi final pitched West Witney v West Witney as Alder took on current champion Leighfield, another player in his final year as Squires took on his captain in the other.

Both games were again great adverts for the sport with brilliant play, a slice of fortune here and there, exemplary sportsmanship and emotion at the end. The champ showed his class, and had to, to withstand the challenge from Alder finally qualifying for the final and for Leamington with a 21-14 win. The final ends of the other game are difficult to describe as so many head changes and great, and sometimes not so great, bowls were involved. Save to say that it was 20-20 going into what proved to be the final end which was fitting for this battle. The shot changed hands a coupe of times but then Cooper played a little trail and finished up with a front toucher. Squires, with the final bowl of the game attempted to kill the end, narrowly missed meaning a final chance at the title for the Watlington man on 23rd July.

Apart from the high standard of play during this day the overriding feeling as a supporter was of the huge team spirit, camaraderie and support for each other within this group of players. That there was a little emotion at the end of some games just shows how much the sport and the competition means to all. The future remains very bright!

Our thanks to all at Kidlington BC for hosting the event. Nothing, as usual, was too much trouble and helped make the day what it was. Thanks also to deputy president Eddie Dorling and all officials for giving up the day to support and mark and to the umpire, another Eddie. Finally, a big thankyou to Bradley Squires for his organisation of the day. Not easy when playing but he did it well.

Ladies and Gents we have a 22 year old Competition Secretary…as said…the future is bright!

Steve Gilkes
Under 25s Manager (and for once just an interested spectator!)