Ineson reigns in Women’s Premier Singles
28 September 2023

On a weekend when bowls were cancelled nationwide due to the wet weather, it seemed Auckland was the place to be. However, truth be told, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows here either! 80 competitors took to the greens in showery conditions vying for a chance at the final 16 and ultimately the honour of being named 2023 Women’s Premier Open Singles Champion. 

Play was spread across five Auckland venues; Mt Eden, Auckland, Blockhouse Bay, Remuera, and Royal Oak who were also headquarters for the event. While the players lucky enough to be drawn at the covered greens were grateful to be dry, the spirits were not deterred by a few passing showers for those who faced the elements.

Played in 20 sections made up of four players each, players in sections 1-12 played three games over four rounds with a marking bye, the section winners qualifying for Sunday’s final 16. Sections 13-20, however, played three rounds back-to-back thanks to the volunteer markers provided by Blockhouse Bay and Royal Oak. The eight-section winners had a 4th round playoff for the final four post-section spots.

The Final 16 was a mix of upcoming talent and experience. Round one feature matches included 1-5 bowler Sarah Childs (Waipu) also a member at Carlton Cornwall and making her debut on Saturday for Auckland came up against the ever-consistent Jocelyn Holten from the mighty Hinuera club. A gallant effort from the young bowler saw her fall 21-14 but showed promise of more to come – one to watch. 

2018 Champion Linda Ralph (Carlton Cornwall) faced #36 Blackjack Wendy Jensen, now representing Omaha Beach. An exhibition of draw bowls provided amazing viewing. Jensen gained the win 21-16 despite Ralph’s efforts in the closing ends to flip the lead. 

Another 21-16 scoreline, Jenny Stockford (Pt Chevalier) played 2016’s champion Deb White (Hinuera). While it could be said White perhaps had the more consistent draw of the two, Stockford’s indoor experience was on display with some crafty attacking bowls and playing the trail at key moments in the match to make her way into the next round.

The quarterfinals saw some one-sided scorelines on the top side of the draw, whilst the bottom was very closely contested. Kensington’s ever-steady Diane Strawbridge accounted for clubmate Skye Renes (representing Manly on this occasion) 21-9 while Takapuna’s Adele Ineson also won in dominate fashion defeating Rachael Hancock (Onehunga & Districts) 21-10.

The bottom side saw two 21-18 matches, with Jocelyn Holten (Hinuera) beating Ashleigh Jeffcoat (Carlton Cornwall) and Wendy Jensen (Omaha Beach) defeating Jenny Stockford (Pt Chevalier) in what was yet another brilliant contrast in the steady draw vs. attacking style. 

This also eliminated the last of the Auckland hopefuls for the competition.

Our four semi-finalists took to the green, an early advantage to Jensen saw her hold the lead over Holten 16-4. Holten changed to an aggressive approach reigning the score 16-15 scoreline however a killed 19th end, followed by a missed drive on the replay flipped the momentum back to Jensen winning, 21-15. In contrast, Strawbridge vs. Ineson saw a crafty battle with precise drawing and subtle jack movement. Ineson proving too exact taking the win, 21-13.

The Final saw Ineson face off against Jensen. Both players had dominated the draw game throughout the day on the Royal Oak surface and a tightly contested final was expected. After a dozen ends of back-and-forth, Ineson held a narrow 12-8 advantage over Jenson. A very rare loose end saw Ineson drop a tight four to bring the scores level. 

Not to be deterred, Ineson quickly put a tight 3 of her own in, back at the other end. All of Jenson’s bowls are in line no more than a metre behind. An extremely tense head. Ineson with the last bowl of the end pulled up just millimetres short of completing a four-count. 

The following end saw another tight 3 drawn by Ineson. Her fourth bowl, while counting, perhaps didn’t deserve to be in the context of the head. Jenson played a reaching draw weight, finding all the holes, and dropping four. 19-12 now and another amazing start from Ineson saw her draw a front toucher which set the head up beautifully for her to build on and score two, completing the game with a final score of 21-12.

An amazing display of bowls showed by all our final 16 and a truly extraordinary. Ineson said after the match “If you had told me yesterday morning, I would be playing in the final let alone winning it, I’d have said you were dreaming.” 

Even after the prize giving it was clear the reality of her achievement still hadn’t quite sunk in. After an emotional prize giving led by Bowls Auckland President Greame Scott a sparkling or two was enjoyed reflecting on the weekend and the high standard of bowls played throughout.

Congratulations, Adele Ineson (Takapuna), 2023 Women’s Premier Open Singles Champion and to all our place-getters Wendy Jensen (Omaha), Jocelyn Holten (Hinuera), and Diane Strawbridge (Kensington).

As the only remaining Premier Women’s Singles event (outside of Nationals) in the country, we look forward to continuing to make the tournament bigger and better in years to come!

Brendon Walton
Tournament Director