The nation’s biggest stars are set to collide on carpet at Bowls’ marquee national indoor event, the $30,000 Australian Indoor Championships, next week at Tweed Heads Bowls Club.
There will be more than just prize-money and two coveted titles on the line when the event commences on Monday morning, with both the men’s and women’s winners of the four-day event afforded entry into the prestigious World Cup next year.
Three-time winner and reigning champion Jeremy Henry has a target planted firmly on his back as the player to beat in the 30th staging of the men’s event next week, but challengers are lining up from all angles.
Among those lining up dethrone Henry is his Warilla clubmate Aron Teys, who looms ominously in the same half of the draw, with the pair a strong chance to meet in the semi-final stages.
In addition to Teys, there’s another Australian Open men’s singles winner lurking the field that would relish the chance to obtain the rare indoor-outdoor double, in recent winner Nathan Pedersen.
The draw is smattered with other contenders who could easily escape the carnage of the sets-play, knockout format to hoist the trophy aloft after five rounds, but standing in their way is a menacing Henry, intent on reclaiming his throne.
Genuine contenders are littered throughout the 32-player field in the 15th staging of the women’s event, making it difficult to determine a pre-tournament favourite.
Six-time winner Karen Murphy has proven time and time again that she’s the golden girl of the tournament, but has not tasted success in the past three years, following victories from 2007-2009 and 2011-2013.
Reigning titleholder Natasha Scott completed the coveted indoor-outdoor double last year; claiming the Australian Open and Australian Indoor Championships singles titles, but no women besides Murphy has ever triumphed twice on this particular stage.
Which leads us to a couple of other former winners stalking the field, in 2004 champion Claire Turley and 2014 victor Jamie-Lee Worsnop; both have proven their mettle before, but history suggests it is another thing entirely to strike gold twice, unless your name is Karen Murphy.
The event commences from 8.00am on Monday, with the women’s and men’s finals scheduled for 11.00am and 2.00pm on Thursday respectively.
The event will feature on the sport’s free-to-air broadcast product, The Bowls Show, which is televised nationwide on SBS, across five episodes from September 24 to October 22.
Entry is free of charge for all days of the event, including the final two day’s semi-finals and finals on the television broadcast rink, featuring grandstand seating.
Click here to view the 2017 Australian Indoor Championships’ event page, which features the event program and links to the men’s and women’s draws.
Men’s seeds: 1. Jeremy Henry (Warilla, NSW), 2. Nathan Pedersen (Modbury, SA), 3. Garry Ball (Deer Park, VIC), 4. Ben Twist (St Johns Park, NSW), 5. Aaron Teys (Warilla, NSW), 6. Carl Healey (Cabramatta, NSW), 7. David Ferguson (Rules Club Wagga, NSW), 8. Jesse Noronha (Warilla, NSW).
Women’s seeds: 1. Natasha Scott (Raymond Terrace, NSW), 2. Ellen Ryan (Cabramatta, NSW), 3. Rebecca Van Asch (Invermay, TAS), 4. Karen Murphy (Cabramatta, NSW), 5. Lynsey Clarke (Club Helensvale, NSW), 6. Tiffany Brodie (Clayton, VIC), 7. Jamie-Lee Worship (St Johns Park, NSW), 8. Claire Turley (Cabramatta, NSW).