Bowled over on the coast
A THREE-week bowls bonanza has begun on the east coast, as the 2009 World Indoor Bowls championships started this week.The 11th championship to be held at the prestigious Potter Leisure Resort at Hopton started with a bang as the early qualifying for the World Indoor Pairs Championship provided some early shocks.
A THREE-week bowls bonanza has begun on the east coast, as the 2009 World Indoor Bowls championships started this week.
The 11th championship to be held at the prestigious Potter Leisure Resort at Hopton started with a bang as the early qualifying for the World Indoor Pairs Championship provided some early shocks.
The venue, on the Norfolk and Suffolk border, has been overtaken by bowls fever as some 83 matches over forthcoming days take centre stage on the unique blue bowls rink.
And with four world titles up-for-grabs, the top-class festival features the flagship World Singles Championship, the Ladies World Matchplay Championship, the World Indoor Pairs Championship and the Mixed Pairs World Matchplay Championship.
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With live coverage set to be showcased on BBC TV in the next few weeks, the championships feature the top 20 bowlers in the world as well as qualifiers from the UK, Australia, South Africa, USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel and New Zealand.
But on the opening day of action on Monday it was the seeded pairings who were struggling.
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Established Welsh duo Jason Greenslade and Robert Weale had to overcome a best-of-three-ends tie-break against English qualifiers Neil Chandler and David Howes in the first round match.
But the fifth-seeds just held on to progress into the next round. Eighth seeds Jonathan Ross and Simon Skelton also needed a best-of-three-ends tie-break to eventually beat Scottish qualifiers Chris McGready and Ross Dennis.
In the earlier qualifying rounds, Canadians Fred Fong and Christie Grahame beat US pair Ed Quo and Charlie Herbert, while Israeli qualifiers Boaz Markus and Lawrence Hurwitz battled back from a set down to defeat Hong Kong's Chris Chau and Kenny So.
On Tuesday, Welsh qualifiers Mark Harding and Phil Rowlands produced the first upset in the Pairs Championship when they beat locally-based third seeds Mark Royal and Greg Harlow.
The new English pairing from East Anglia surprisingly lost 7-7, 10-1.
Favourites Ian Bond and Andy Thomson, winners of the title for the first time last year, emerged unscathed from their opening encounter after they beat New Zealand qualifiers Paul Girdler and Ken Walker.
The World Indoor Singles Championship also got underway on Tuesday when Robert Paxton beat Chris Gale in a titanic three-set battle between two English qualifiers.
Qualifiers Nick Brett and Stephen Tuohy's clash also went to the wire, and it was the Surrey bowler who won a place in the second round with a third-set win.
On Wednesday, Darren Burnett beat fellow qualifier Duncan Heard in straight sets in the first round of the singles, while veteran Welshman John Price also secured his place in the second round by just beating Scottish qualifier Stewart Anderson in the third set.
Irishman Jeremy Henry also progressed after beating qualifier Graham Standley.
In the two first round matches in the World Pairs championship, former champions and fourth seeds Billy Jackson and David Gourlay easily beat Australian qualifiers Richard Strawbridge and Steve Halmai 11-2, 10-6, while seventh seeds Richard Morgan and Les Gillett saw off Israeli qualifiers Markus and Hurwitz.
World Indoor Pairs Championship:
 Jason Greenslade & Robert Weale (WAL) v  Billy Jackson (ENG) & David Gourlay (AUS)
2pm:  Ian Bond & Andy Thomson (ENG) v  Jonathan Ross (IRE) & Simon Skelton (ENG); [Q] Mark Harding & Phil Rowlands (WAL) v King & Kerkow or Lozzi & Rimmington
7.30pm:  Richard Morgan (WAL) & Les Gillett (ENG) v Foster & Marshall or McClure & Henry