Gold Coast stars survive singles carnage
Two Gold Coast based Australian Jackaroos escaped the opening round carnage of the blue-ribbon men’s singles knockout stage at the $225,000 Australian Open today.
Club Helenvale’s Australian representatives Brett Wilkie and Mark Casey remain alive in the competition’s premier discipline, each progressing to tomorrow’s third elimination round of 32 on the back of consecutive victories.
National vice-captain Wilkie was in somewhat of a lose-lose situation in his first round encounter, forced to take the knife to pint-sized Marcus Simpson, 12, from the Northern Territory or yield in his campaign to reclaim the coveted singles silverware that he last held aloft in 2009.
He faced an easier decision in his proceeding round at Southport, following his 21-11 opening rubber win up with a 21-10 second rubber victory against Paul Kelly.
Casey, the 2012 singles champion, eased his way into the second elimination round 21-2 versus Lloyd Iaccarino and advanced to tomorrow’s third round 21-9 against Shannon Gitteos.
Three other Australian representatives lurk ominously in the draw, headlined by triple International Bowler of the Year Aron Sherriff, who prevailed in a blockbuster encounter against the man widely regarded as the best in the business.
Sherriff laid down the law on the Gold Coast, gunning down Scottish world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Alex Marshall in the opening knockout round, 21-13, before continuing his charge towards the pointy end of the competition with a 21-11 win against Matt Rennex.
Victorian based Jackaroos Barrie Lester, a five-time Australian Open finalist, and Matthew Flapper, both kept their chances of a maiden singles win alive temporarily.
A contingent of international raiders also loom amongst the star-studded field, including former Northern Irish international turned Australian three-time World Cup winner Jeremy Henry, former New Zealand Blackjack turned Tweed Heads’ Bowls Coordinator Paul Girdler, Broadbeach’s Canadian master-blaster Ryan Bester and former English representative David Holt.
Among the casualties of the opening two rubbers was 2013 Australian Open singles winner Aaron Wilson, but his brother; defending champion Nathan Wilson remained unscathed.
South Australian spearhead Scott Thulborn bowed out of the Australian Open just a day after claiming the event’s first trophy for the 2015, the men’s fours title, while former world number one, Malaysia’s Safuan Said was also a victim of the world’s most lucrative open bowls event.