Polegrove duo shine at National Championships

Bowls talents Alice Phillimore (left) and Jo Watt at the National Championships.
Bowls talents Alice Phillimore (left) and Jo Watt at the National Championships.

Two talented young bowls players from Bexhill did their club and county proud at the 2017 National Championships.

Alice Phillimore reached the last four of the Women’s Junior Singles Championship at Victoria Park in Royal Leamington Spa and fellow Polegrove ladies player Jo Watt made it to the last 16.

Phillimore won three matches on Sunday and another on Monday morning before bowing out against Katherine Rednall, a three-time world indoor champion. Watt won two matches on Sunday.

In their first round matches, Alice Phillimore got off to a good start against Bethany Watkins (Mylor Bridge, Cornwall) before edging a close game 21-19. Watt had a more comfortable 21-8 win over Chloe Elliott (Frampton-On-Severn, Gloucestershire).

They both had easier second round games, Phillimore winning 21-4 against Kate Williams (Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire) and Watt whitewashing youngster Molly Smith (Ashby De-La-Zouch, Leicestershire) 21-0.

Tougher tests followed for both in the last 16. Phillimore pulled off a great 21-7 victory over Chloe Brett (Parkway, Huntingdonshire), while Watt was defeated 21-16 in an exciting, close game against England under-25 team-mate Ruby Hill (Royal Mail Cart, Lincolnshire).

The next morning Phillimore faced Rebecca Cresswell (Poole Park, Dorset) in what turned into a really close quarter-final tussle.

Phillimore won four consecutive ends to extend her lead from 8-6 to 14-6, and after gaining three shots on the 18th end and one more on the 19th, she was 19-12 in front.

Cresswell gained eight shots to Phillimore’s one over the next six ends, though, to level at 20-20. But Phillimore put that behind her to gain the all-important shot on the decisive 26th end, which went down to a measure, to scrape through.

Her tremendous run ended there, however, as she was beaten 21-3 by England international Rednall (Felixstowe & Suffolk, Suffolk) in the semi-finals on Monday lunchtime.

Phillimore picked up a single on the opening end, but gained just two more shots thereafter as Rednall showed why in 2014, then aged 18, she became the youngest ever winner of a world indoor bowls title. Rednall went on to beat Harriet Stevens (Newton Abbot, Devon) 21-18 in the final.

Phillimore’s run gave the England selectors an opportunity to see how well she can play which should help her with her international aspirations.

Phillimore and Watt took part in the National Championships just a week after facing each other in the Sussex county final, a match which Phillimore won.

Polegrove ladies will again be represented at the National Championships next week when Watt, Ann Pole and Denise Hodd take part in the triples. They will play Middlesex A in round one on Monday morning.

Watt, Pole and Hodd were crowned Sussex county champions a fortnight ago after beating L. Taylor, N. Grief and H. Jones (Worthing Pavilion) 19-10 in the final.

The Women’s Junior Singles Championship was sponsored by Lynn Pearson in memory of her mother Eileen Pearson.