Australia's Kylie Whitehead and Lee Schraner. Picture: David Allen, World Bowls.

2019 World Singles Champion of Champions: Gold up for grabs for Aussie duo

by Lachlan Williams

Australia will be hunting two gold medals on the final day of the 2019 World Singles Champion of Champions in Adelaide on Sunday.

Lee Schraner and Kylie Whitehead tasted victory in their respective semi-finals at Adelaide Bowling Club on Saturday afternoon, qualifying for Sunday’s finals.

The pair had the morning off after topping their respective sections during the week, avoiding playing in heavy rain by doing so.

Whitehead faced off against Norfolk Island’s Shae Wilson – one of just two players to take the Australian to a tiebreaker during sectional play.

The home-nation player dominated early, taking the first set 12-4 before Wilson managed to swing the momentum in the second set, forcing a tiebreak after winning 3-8.

“It was pretty nerve-racking (going to the tiebreaker). I always knew she would come back, she picked up the pace and found her line in the second set,” Whitehead said.

“I mentally prepared myself for the tiebreak. I think having in the back of my mind I beat her in three sets during the week helped, but you can never count any of these players out.”

Whitehead’s confidence showed in the 3-end decider, showing her class with a 7-0 win to advance to the final. She will meet New Zealand’s Debbie White who also advanced after a tiebreak win, edging out England’s Sophie Tolchard.

“It’s a dream come true (to be in the final). It’s not everyday you get to play for a world title,” Whitehead said.

“Win or lose, I’m just really looking forward to the opportunity.”

Schraner came up against England’s Louis Ridout in his semi final after making it through the sectional round undefeated. The Australian had a point to prove after failing to advance to the final last year despite topping his section in that event.

“I’m far more relaxed this year than last year. Last year I went in with hot form and big expectations, this year I had no form and lack of expectation. I was excited to top the pool knowing whatever happened from there would be a bonus,” Schraner said.

It was a commanding performance this time around for Schraner, continuing his form from the sectional play into the semi by taking out the first set 9-3.

“It was a narrow sort of rink but it was pretty quick,” he said.

“Watching some of Louis’ games during the week I knew if he got going he’d be damaging. It was about keeping him to ones and not converting those into bigger scores.”

2019 WCoC – Semi-Finals

🚨 RINKSIDE LIVE 🚨2019 World Singles Champion of Champions – Semi-Final | Lee Schraner 🇦🇺 🆚 Louis Ridout 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿📍 Adelaide Bowling Club, SA

Posted by Bowls Australia on Friday, 1 November 2019

That plan worked for Schraner as he took out the second set 11-3 to advance to the final.

“Playing in a world singles final, wow. It’s an opportunity and a chance to finish in the green and gold on a high note,” he said.

“Whether I play well or not, I will be giving it my all and not leave anything in the bag. I have had heaps of support so hopefully I can bring it home for those guys.”

Schraner will play Hong Kong’s Tony Cheung who came back from a set down to beat Wayne Rittmuller (RSA) in the morning’s elimination final then knocked off Scotland’s Mark O’Hagan in the semi final.

Bowls Australia (BA) will be live-streaming finals action from the 2019 World Singles Championships on Sunday, November 3 from 11.30am.

Day 6 results

Men’s

Elimination finals

Tony Cheung (HKC) def Wayne Rittmuller (RSA) 4-11 11-6 5-0. Louis Ridout (ENG) def Charlie Herbert (USA) 11-2 9-6.

Semi finals

Tony Cheung (HKC) def Mark O’Hagan (SCO) 10-4 10-8. Lee Schraner (AUS) def Louis Ridout (ENG) 9-3 11-3.

Women’s

Elimination finals

Shae Wilson (NFI) def Laura Daniels (WAL) 12-3 9-4. Sophie Tolchard (ENG) def Esmé Kruger (RSA) 10-1 8-10 4-1.

Semi finals

Kylie Whitehead (AUS) def Shae Wilson (NFI) 12-4 3-8 7-0. Debbie White (NZL) def Sophie Tolchard (ENG) 9-3 4-14 5-0.