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Singles success for Goodwin and Smith at Junior World Bowls Championships

Two tense tiebreaks brought the Junior World Bowls Championships to an exciting close at the County Antrim IBC in Northern Ireland, when Harry Goodwin won the men’s singles title for England and Australia’s Brianna Smith won the women’s singles title.

While Goodwin’s final win over Queenslander Nick Cahill denied the Aussie a rare double, he also chalked up a golden double for himself, after he partnered England team-mate Ruby Hill to a win over Smith and Cahill in yesterday (THURSDAY)’s mixed pairs final.

‘Tiebreak Torment’ is how players describe the sudden death nature of the brutal one-end deciders that break a one-set-all deadlock – but spectators enjoyed the drama as Goodwin beat Cahill, 10-11, 9-4, 1-0, and Smith returned an 11-5, 5-6, 1-0 scorecard against Hong Kong star Yu Yee Sin.

Smith looked the winner all the way when she scorched to an 11-5 win in the first set, but Yu, who despite her calm appearance, admitted she was close to panic mode, kept her head and dug deep to edge the second set, 6-5, and force Smith into tiebreak territory.

Brilliant bowls from both players on the shoot-out – a dead-length toucher from Yu and an accurate running bowl from Smith – left the result in doubt until the Umpire Mike Clewer, after measuring several times, decreed that the Aussie’s bowl was closer by a fraction of an inch.

Smith, who is 23, had played consistently throughout the tournament, and was a worthy winner, but the 24-year-old Yu, a product of the Hong Kong Youth Development scheme, captured the hearts of spectators with her quiet demeanour and unstated self-assurance.

“I may feel panicky inside, but I take a deep breath, try to be calm, and concentrate on the basics, to boost my inner confidence,” Yu explained, while an overjoyed Smith, who plays for the St John’s club in Sydney, was close to tears, insisting, “This win is beyond my wildest dreams.”

Goodwin, a 25-year-old plasterer from Sittingbourne, also expressed his disbelief in winning a world title. “I never thought it was possible,” he said, “But it’s been a great week for me. Winning the mixed pairs with Ruby was fantastic, but to add the singles title is unbelievable.”

In the final, Cahill, who is only 20, had the better of the opening set, and forged into an 11-6 lead after seven ends, and held on to win the set, 11-10, and the Aussie, a professional bowler, who plies his trade on the Gold Coast, looked the likely winner when he led, 4-2 in the second set.

However, stringing together a sequence of five unanswered scores, Goodwin turned things around, winning the set, 9-4, after eight ends, and controlled the tiebreak with inch-perfect drawing to the jack, forcing Cahill into playing weight.

A good strike saw Goodwin’s shot disappear, but England’s Under 25 captain simply replaced the shot with a prefect draw, and Cahill’s valiant attempt to beat it on a draw slipped frustratingly past the jack, and left the tall Englishman with the shot that gave him the world title.

Final: Harry Goodwin (England) bt Nick Cahill (Australia) 10-11, 9-4, 1-0.

Final: Brianna Smith (Australia) bt Yu Yee Sin (Hong Kong) 11-5, 5-6, 1-0.

[Words via David Rhys Jones; images via Anne Dunwoodie]

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