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JTE Masters 2009 - Madison Heights PDF Print E-mail

This is the culmination of a years' hard work not only travelling the country to take part in all the qualifying events, but also constant training and practice to achieve a place in the top 20 boys and girls in English bowling. After all that they then have to take part in a gladiatorial competition over 2 days, when 8 boys and 8 girls are then selected to train for the final 4 slots to represent Team England in the European Championships. This year there was an incredible bonus for the eventual winners, namely a contract with Brunswick for the ensuing year.

Kirsten and Zara

Matt and Zara

This must be one of the most prestigious prizes ever offered in junior bowling. Not only a new set (6 I believe) of the top Brunswick bowling balls, but also any new releases during the year will also be supplied to both the top girl and top boy in this event. Plus shoes, bags and all the other paraphernalia that we carry around the country, weekend after weekend. Zara Glover was in attendance to present the prizes to the eventual winners, and all this took place at Madison Heights over the 12th/13th September.

It was an incredibly stressful weekend for the bowlers (as always) with the scoring system giving 20 points to the winner of each game, going down to 1 point for the lowest pinfall. All the scoring for this event is on points, so that can distort things with a high pinfall not necessarily resulting in the winner. As this is held over 2 days it does normally even out, but I can recall in past years that some high scores only achieve 14-15 points, and also sometimes the reverse is true. It all depends on what everyone else shoots in that game.

At the end of the first day there were 2 competitors clearly out in front. For the girls Kirsten MacGregor was hitting consistently high scores and being a strong matchplay bowler looked in a very strong position. For the boys Matt Fidgett had played a consistent and sensible shot to score highly in most games and again was clearly out in front at the end of the first day. This is always a long weekend and it's not over until the last game, but at the halfway stage you ideally want to be in the top 10 and not leave too much to do on the 2nd day - we know this from experience!

So day 2 started with both the leaders clearly in the same mould and racking up the points. On day 1 there had been a few obvious "names" that seemed to be struggling, but by the 3rd game some of these were noticeably making a charge to catch up. In the girls Nikki Beard was starting to notch up some big scores and in the boys it was Matt Blythe who had gone up a gear. Notably both of these bowlers were in the Team England squad that achieved a very good result in Malmo in April 2009.

After the middle lunch break on day 2 it was noticeable that Matt Fidgett was beginning to find the changing conditions a problem, and there was now a race on between half a dozen or so boys for the top slots. One of Matt's team mates - Thomas Wright - was making a rapid sprint towards the 1st place. In the girls competition Kirsten had steadily improved the cushion that she had built up on day 1 and now had an unassailable lead, so the battle was on for positions 2 downwards, as the top slot was really secure now. The boys' competition was incredibly exciting in the last couple of games with Tom Wright catching Matt for equal first going into the last game, and what was going to be a great last game emerged with both Tom and Matt on the same lanes. This proved to be nip and tuck all the way right to the last frame with Matt taking the title by a margin of 1 point, great sport to watch. Going back to my earlier comments it is interesting to note that in overall pinfall Tom was ahead by 1 pin! But it's all about the points - not the pins.

So congratulations to both Kirsten MacGregor and Matt Fidgett for winning a gruelling competition and a terrific prize. And thanks to all the bowlers for providing an exciting event for the spectators, and commiserations to those disappointed.
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