Cheery Christmas winners: Cliff Webber and Debbie White take hold of the Bay open singles trophies, flanked by the runners-up Graeme Ricketts and Jocelyn Holten.

Cliff Webber, Debbie White produce a Merry Christmas

December 21, 2021

In-form Cliff Webber gave himself the perfect Christmas present by winning the Bay of Plenty men’s open singles and his third centre title in tenacious fashion.

“I had set out to win the Bay singles at some point in my career,” said Webber, a 10th year player at the Tauranga club. “I enjoy playing singles and because I practise so much I know I can draw.

“I was stoked to win the final but I was also proud of the way I fought back in the quarter and semi-finals. It proves to me that I have a bit of resolve.”

In fact, Webber had to fight hard from the last 16 beating John Gray (Te Puke) 21-19, and it stayed that way until he crushed another Te Puke player Graeme Ricketts 21-2 in a12-end final.

Webber had earlier won the centre open titles twice with Andre Hudson and Nick Tomsett.

National squad member Debbie White won her first Bay of Plenty title, beating Jocelyn Holten 21-17 in the women’s singles final at Katikati. Interestingly, both bowlers play out of the Tauranga and Hinuera clubs, and White – a past national singles champion –is available for the Bay of Plenty representative side.

Webber staged an incredible comeback in his quarter-final against Burnside under 26 singles champion Anthony Ouellet (Tauranga South), who led 14-3.

“I just decided to peg him back with one point at a time. Anthony was starting to get the wobbles and I thought ‘hey, you are still up; I think I’m in with a chance here’ and just dug in,” said Webber. He dug in so well he won 21-19.

In the semi-final against Mt Maunganui’s Doug Russell, Webber led 7-4, trailled 14-8 and “dropped a bad four” to fall further behind at 18-8.

“When I got the mat I changed the length and took it short, and started nutting the jack. I just kept fighting,” said Webber. He reeled in a three, four twos and a single to lead 20-18. Russell picked up a single but Webber closed it out with a three on the last end.

In the final, Ricketts scored a single on the first and 10th ends but Webber, still playing the short ends, was now in full flow, scoring a four, two threes, four twos and three singles over 10 ends.

Ricketts beat experienced Steve Beel (Mt Maunganui) 21-16 in his semi-final. The score was tied at 7-all and 13-all before Beel edged ahead at 16-13. But Ricketts finished off the match with a three, two and three singles over the final five ends.

Webber said his new goal is to represent the Bay of Plenty men at the national inter-centre championship. “I’d love to help the Bay side win the inter-centre title, and then I want to play well at the national-interclub final.”

He is missing the national singles, pairs and fours championships because of work commitments. “I love the bowls competitions but I keep using up my leave for them.”

Debbie White had a battle on her hands against highly-promising Katarina Stepec (Ohope) in the semi-finals before winning 21-18. Stepec had earlier beaten Bay representatives Mary Campbell and Wendy Green.

In the final, White jumped out to leads of 7-1, 13-5 and 17-9, but Holten fought back with a four and two to close the gap to 17-15. White went ahead 19-15 but Holten replied with a two before White picked up a winning two shots of her own.

Holten beat Kelly Alefaio, another bowler who plays out of Tauranga and Hinuera, 21-12 in the semi-final. The women’s singles championship was a tournament where the younger ones were starting to shine:

Results were:
Men’s singles, quarter-finals: Steve Beel (Mt Maunganui) 21 Paul Anderson (Mt Maunganui) 14; Graeme Ricketts (Te Puke) 21 John Simons (Mt Maunganui) 7; Cliff Webber (Tauranga) 21 Anthony Ouellet (Tauranga South) 19; Doug Russell (Mt Maunganui) 21 Gavin Hamlyn (Carrington, Carterton) 17.

Semi-finals: Ricketts 21 Beel 16; Webber 21 Russell 19. Final: Webber 21 Ricketts 2.

Women’s singles, semi-finals: Jocelyn Holten (Tauranga) 21 Kelly Alefaio (Tauranga) 12; Debbie White (Tauranga) 21 Katarina Stepec (Ohope) 18. Final: White 21 Holten 17.