New Zealand Blackjacks Andrew Kelly and Katelyn Inch have collected silver at the 2023 World Bowls Indoor Championships narrowly missing out on tie-break finishes in their respective finals.
Hosted at the Warilla Bowls and Recreational Club in Australia, Kelly and Inch were mightily impressive in their singles’ qualifying play, both remaining unbeaten, before going on to face a strong run of post-section opposition enroute to the grand-final.
Kelly found himself up against arguably one of the world’s greatest bowlers at present in Aron Sherriff, with the Australian having dominated on the domestic scene throughout the season. Having just secured the Mixed Pairs title with Kelsey Cottrell a matter of hours before the final, Sherriff was in no mood to be stopped on his way to becoming the first player to ever secure both the mixed pairs and singles accolades in the same year.
However, Kelly continued his carpet prowess, and appeared to be dominating proceedings in the first set until Sherriff was able to change the length of the end, with the Australian scoring seven unanswered shots in the last three ends to close out the set and place one hand on the silverware.
With the disappointment quickly parked, Kelly put on a masterclass display in the second set to force the match to a tie-break end – with Sherriff again opting for his favoured length and Kelly unable to get the all-important shot for world acclaim, taking the match 10-8, 5-8, 1-0.
Earlier in the day, Inch faced defending champion Julie Forrest, of Scotland, and experienced a similar defeat – with the Scot running out with the victory on the tie-break end, 6-5, 2-8, 1-0. In doing so, Forrest became only the second woman to defend her singles title, matched only by former world number one Jo Edwards.
Commenting on the event, Bowls New Zealand Head Coach Mike Kernaghan said he was impressed with the performance from his charges – with both Kiwis having to dig deep to match it with some of the world’s best.
“It was a very strong field with almost all of the UK players being specialist indoor players, so for Katelyn and Andrew to achieve the level they did was exceptional,” Kernaghan said.
“I’m really pleased with their performances . . . both faced challenging circumstances in one or two of their games, and their use of their mental skills and technical ability was impressive.”
Reflecting on the final, Kelly said he was “stoked” to come away with a silver medal in such a high-quality field.