Written by Lynne Clay
Photo credit to Lyn Fletcher, Living and Loving Photography
The 2019 QUEENSLAND JUNIOR CUP, held at Caboolture Bowl in Brisbane’s north at the weekend has again showcased the exciting talent of the sport’s emerging champions.
First staged in 2015, this national-rankings tournament attracted players and supporters from the ACT and every State to compete in one of the most popular annual events for Junior bowlers in Australia.
The action on the lanes began early on Saturday morning as the first of three consecutive squads bowled ten qualifying games to determine the top ten female and top 12 male players eligible to progress to the finals matches on Sunday. Recent inductee to the TBAQ Hall of Fame, George Frilingos, threw the ceremonial ‘first ball’ of the tournament.
Buoyed by his recent Silver medal performance at the Asian Schools Championships in Hong Kong, defending QJC champion Nixon Chan posted a 226.3 average in qualifying, just five pins ahead of Cairns player and fellow Asian Schools teammate, Bailey Miller. Runner-up in the 2018 QJC, Ballina youngster Blake Walsh shadowed the pair with a 218.7 average.
Also in hot pursuit of the leaders after ten games, Ben Matchett and Jaydin Dunn both shot near-perfect 279 games in the third game of qualifying, while in the female division, Rachael Graham from Brisbane’s Aspley Bowl held a firm lead after ten games with a 152 pin margin ahead of Perth’s Ashlyn Mohr and 2018 QJC champion Grace Fahy from Victoria.
Day Two of the tournament shone the spotlight on the skills and intensely close competition that the Queensland Junior Cup is renowned for.
In fourth place after qualifying, Lilly Wilson from Townsville surged into the lead in Stage 1 of the finals, progressing into the matchplay round a mere two pins ahead of Gold Coast bowler Sophie Smart, while a tie for sixth place required reference to the tournament rules to determine the line-up for the final round. Nixon Chan retained his lead in Stage 1 of the male division finals with a 228.8 average, charging ahead of Tom Mitchell from Newcastle and Sydney’s Ben Matchett.
Chan kept the momentum going, holding off a determined challenge from 13-year-old Blake Walsh in matchplay to secure back-to-back QJC titles, with Tom Mitchell finishing third. Wins and bonus points in four of the five matchplay games elevated Tasmania’s Sarah Pennicott to the top of the podium in the female division with a 191.5 average, ahead of Lilly Wilson’s 191.5 average and Grace Fahy close behind with 190.6.
It was a significant win for 17-year-old Chan, who studies and lives at The Kings School in Sydney as he will age out of contention for future Queensland Junior Cup tournaments. He now has his sights set on future representative teams in Youth and Open division Championships – under the guidance of distinguished coach Geoff Bowness, and already with four perfect games and medals at Zone Championships to his credit, Chan has all the hallmarks of achieving his goals on the international stage.
Launceston teen Sarah Pennicott is also establishing her name amongst the sport’s most eminent rising stars. Bowling since she was nine years old, the 18-year-old is coached by two of the country’s most accomplished coaches, Hayden George and Garry Crick. Pennicott, who is five-times Tasmanian Junior Masters champion and Australian representative at the Asian Schools Championships for the past two years, will test her skills against experienced bowlers at Tasmania’s Adult Championships in two weeks’ time.
The prize for top placing in the Graded division of the 2019 QJC was won by Riley Lietzow from Capalaba, with Logan’s Connor Bishop second and Aimee Steinback from Rockhampton in third place.
Spectators were treated to outstanding performances by many of the young bowlers throughout the tournament while interstate fans kept up with the action via the YouTube live-stream from Caboolture Bowl. The coveted perpetual Fletcher Family Trophy for sportsmanship and performance at this year’s QJC was awarded to Sophie Smart, and a further two prizes – the Storm Star Search Awards donated by BDP Australia – were won by Ethan Shipston from Laidley in south Queensland and Shanae Key from Melbourne.
During the presentation ceremony, TBAQ Board member and proprietor of Caboolture Bowl, Brian Bates, congratulated the winners at this year’s QJC and thanked the organising committee for staging another successful event, as well as parents for their invaluable support of the young players.
The venue and dates for the 2020 Queensland Junior Cup are expected to be announced shortly.
For all the results visit www.tenpinresults.com.au