Suffolk star books date with King

Suffolk's Mark Smith last night edged the opening game in the World Singles Championships at Potters to set up a second round clash next Tuesday with title holder, number one seed and local hero Mervyn King.

Suffolk's Mark Smith last night edged the opening game in the World Singles Championships at Potters to set up a second round clash next Tuesday with title holder, number one seed and local hero Mervyn King.

The 33-year-old international from Lakenheath, who plays out of the City of Ely club, defeated fellow English qualifier Brett Arkley from Tyneside 10-5, 4-7, 2-0 after a tense finale.

On the first end of the tiebreaker, Arkley was unfortunate to nudge the jack to Smith's bowl with his third delivery but the Ely ace nailed the white with his final shot before his opponent fired and removed the jack from the rink, only for Smith to lie a single when it was respotted.

Smith's third delivery on the second end proved the crucial one as he drew on to the jack to win 2-0 and secure the plum tie with King in the next stage of the competition.


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Smith later revealed: “I celebrated my birthday just five days ago so couldn't have scripted a better present! I started well but I had done the same in the world qualifiers and then lost the second set and had to endure tie-breakers.

“However my form over the opening ends gave me confidence.”

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Looking forward to his clash with King, Smith enthused: “Mervyn and I have played in the same international rink for England for six years now so I can't wait. We are friends but the Ely boys owe him one after last year's triumph here over Greg Harlow so I'll be up for it.”

Earlier defending champions David Gourlay and Billy Jackson eased through to the quarter-finals of the World Pairs - and immediately set themselves a target of an hour a day's practice before they next appear on Friday.

The top seeds beat Welsh qualifiers John Roberts and Martin Selway in straight sets, taking control in the middle of the first set when they counted five shots between the fourth and sixth ends to lead 6-2.

Their opponents narrowed the gap to 6-4 before Scottish-born Australian Gourlay and Jackson, from Lincoln, scored three shots on the final end of the set to win 9-4.

In the second set the title holders went 6-0 in front before the Welsh duo rallied to make it 7-4 after seven ends.

However, Gourlay and Jackson collected the single needed to secure victory with an end to spare.

Gourlay admitted: “They tested us and played well but it was a pleasing first outing.

“Our next game is not until Friday but we will practise hard between now and then. In any case it is no hardship being here as everyone knows I love Potters.”

Colourful American veteran Ed Quo made his third visit to Potters, on this occasion partnering Rosa Gandaro and, despite losing 13-2, 9-4 to Ireland's Clifford Craig and Noel Graham. Quo recently underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation and is two stones lighter than on his previous trip to the UK.

Candy Leung, he first woman from Hong Kong to feature in the event, almost upset Canadians Kevin Jones and Martin Haalstra with partner Tony Tong before being edged out after a match tiebreaker 8-3, 8-10, 1-2.

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