Teenage sensation bows out at Potters
David Rhys-JonesTeen Breen, aka the Welsh Whizz-Kid - real name Jarrad Breen - waved goodbye to the Potters arena yesterday, and a thousand or so spectators were sad to see the spiky-haired happy-go-lucky youngster go.David Rhys-Jones
Teen Breen, aka the Welsh Whizz-Kid - real name Jarrad Breen - waved goodbye to the Potters arena yesterday, and a thousand or so spectators were sad to see the spiky-haired happy-go-lucky youngster go.
'He's been a real breath of fresh air - I only wish I could have played bowls like that when I was his age,' said someone. And that 'someone' was his opponent, Nick Brett, a 35-year-old England international.
But the dream was over. The teenager from the Rhondda Valley, who had previously beaten the Welsh International Open champion Rob Chisholm and the world number two Mark Royal, failed to make it into the quarter-finals of the WBT world indoor singles championship.
'I'm very disappointed that I failed to play to the standard of previous games,' said Breen. 'I just couldn't pick up the pace today, but the last three weeks at Potters have been wonderful for me. I've learnt a lot, and hope I can build on it in the future.'
Brett, a plumber from Yaxley, near Peterborough, beat Breen 5-5 8-8, then said: 'There was a lot of bad, good and indifferent bowls played in that match, but it's fantastic to be in the quarter-finals - I'm over the moon. I played a good end in the second set to get a four to open up a 6-0 lead, and it's a long way back from there,' he added. 'But he's going to be a good one all right, and will put a lot of seeds under pressure when he returns.'
Breen, of course, having had his moment of fame, is now looking forward to lining up for next year's qualifying events in places like Poole and Cynon Valley.
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'That's the hardest part,' he said. 'But I'm determined to get back to Potters, or to one of the other ranking events.'
The two will meet again soon, when the bowls caravan moves on to Perth in Scotland in March, and they will be on opposing teams in the home international series. Incredibly, it will be Breen's third senior series.
'Massive' is a word that has been on many players' lips this year, because some games have had so much at stake. Several players are struggling to hold on to their places in the top 16, and a clutch of fringe players are desperate to break into the inner circle.
So, when Robert Paxton left the rink after defeating Steve Glasson 9-2 4-7 2-0, the first thing he said was, 'That was a massive game for both of us, and, fortunately I got the points, and Steve didn't.'
Paxton, an ex-postman who gave up his job in Exeter to become a bowls professional in Perth in Western Australia, was honest enough to apologise for the way he won the tiebreaks yesterday.
'Steve played two perfect tiebreaks, drawing to the jack with pinpoint accuracy, and my attempts to save with a drive were blessed with more than a bit of luck,' Paxton explained.
'First, I ricocheted off a wing bowl to ditch the jack, and my bowl finished so close that it was almost unbeatable - then, on the second end, after Steve had built up a great position, I was slightly off target with my drive, but when the dust had settled I was holding shot.'
That was the last bowl of the end - and of the game. Paxton raised his hand to indicate he had been fortunate, and Glasson merely looked stunned. It was a disappointing finish to what had been an entertaining encounter.
Glasson, always a gentleman, said: 'It was disappointing to put it mildly, but that's bowls. It wasn't Rob's fault - no-one tries to do things like that. He's a nice guy, and I wish him well in the quarter-finals.'
He added: 'There was so much at stake - a place in the last eight, plus ranking points - so it hurt a lot, and there was no bright light at the end of the tunnel!'
Today's final of the women's world match play singles is a replay of last year's, featuring defending champion Debbie Stavrou, from High Wycombe, and Guernsey's British champion Alison Merrien, who is ranked second in the world on outdoor greens.
Merrien hit top form to beat 23-year-old Welsh hope Kerry Packwood 11-6 10-3 in yesterday's semi-finals, while Stavrou registered a comfortable 10-4, 10-5 victory over Californian Dee McSparran.