INDOOR BOWLS: Spalding Open title for golden Graham

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Home favourite Graham Smith won the annual Spalding Open singles tournament after beating Ely’s Nicky Brett in a high quality final.

The Spalding Indoor Bowls Club skipper becomes the first-ever home winner of the Castle Sports Complex event, which was played on December 28 and 29.

A host of top players from all over the country contested the Dales Sports Surfaces-sponsored tournament, which saw games played over two sets of seven ends, with a best of three end tie break if the scores were level.

The early rounds saw the shock exit of Simon Skelton and Mark Royal, who were amongst the pre-tournament favourites.

After a series of high quality matches, the last eight remaining players were placed into an open draw, as the players marched onto the rinks to their own personal song to determine their opponents.

Hosts Spalding had four players in the last eight, with John Needham being drawn against Smith in an interesting tie for the local supporters.

It was Smith who proved too strong for John, winning in two straight sets.

Spalding’s other two players also progressed into the semi- finals, with Scott Dunham beating junior international Wayne Wilgress in a tense tie break and newly-selected England international Martin Spencer beating Ely’s Edward Elmore 2-0.

Another open draw saw Spencer drawn against Smith and Dunham facing Brett. Both matches lived up to expectations, with Smith finding his form to beat Spencer 9-3 and 8-4.

With home support on his side, Dunham put Brett under pressure but Brett had all the answers, eventually winning in straight sets to set up a clash with Smith.

Smith, who lost in last year’s final, was aiming to go one better this time and started off drawing extremely well to take the first set 7-2.

He continued his great form in the second set to win it 8-4 to become the Spalding Open champion.

Spalding IBC thank Smith and Simon Lilley for organising the event, as well as Beth Smith for assisting with updating the scores on the day and arranging the walk on music.

Thanks also to Colin Wilson, who umpired the event, and all the volunteer markers.