Headed by Browns Bay veteran Colin Rogan, North Harbour bowlers have already achieved plenty of distinctions even though the 2019-20 season has barely started.
Rogan, one of the centre’s most decorated bowlers with 30 or more titles to his credit as well as national successes, in late September won a New Zealand qualifying tournament in Hamilton and this month is competing against some of the world’s best players in an international tournament in Perth, Scotland.
Also excelling in the early part of the new season have been two major acquisitions to the Harbour centre’s women’s ranks in national high-performance squad members, Wendy Jensen and Selena Goddard.
Jensen, who at the tail-end of the 2018-19 season, won a gold medal as lead in the Black Jacks women’s fours in the Asia Pacific Games in Australia, beat a quality field at Hamilton’s Frankton club to win a prestigious invitation singles event.
And Goddard, formerly with the Carlton club in Auckland but now, like Jensen, with Harbour’s Takapuna club, won also in late September the Auckland premier open singles women’s tournament. The added significance of this success was that to collect the title Goddard beat in turn three top bowlers in Paris Baker, another Black Jack Kirsten Edwards, from Nelson, and finally Waikato’s Debbie White.
The wins over Edwards, which was by a decisive margin, and White reversed losses Goddard had incurred to each in major events last season, including to White in the national singles final.
Rogan, due to play his first match in the Scottish Open early this month, won the qualifier held in Hamilton by New Zealand’s Professional Bowls Association.
He also won the New Zealand qualifier for Scotland two years ago but for personal reasons could not make the trip. And while thrilled to be able to go now Rogan does admit to some reservations.
While the NZPBA has contributed $1000 he has had to meet his own expenses to a knockout tournament which lacks an even playing field. The chances are that he could go out in the first round, for which he will receive 400 pounds.
He points out that the 16 qualifiers, from a range of countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada and the United States, are drawn against the top 16 seeds, who coming from either England and Scotland have much greater familiarity with the conditions and environment. Those top players include bowlers of the calibre of the celebrated Scot Alex Marshall.
The qualifiers have minimal time to practise and must play with borrowed bowls. For his opening match, against ninth seeded Englishman James Chestney, Rogan will have a green set and wear a green shirt and should he win for the next round he will have to change to a red set and a red shirt.
“It is very difficult for a player outside the UK to win,” Rogan says. “And it will cost me a bit to go but it’s worth it for the experience…. It will be good watching some of the world’s best players.”
The same weekend Jensen and Goddard were involved in the Auckland premier women’s singles, Rogan did well in the male equivalent, the Ivan Kostanich Memorial singles where the final was held at Takapuna. A previous winner of the event, Rogan went out in the semi-finals to the 20-year old Aucklander Aiden Takarua who then won the final and who is player Roger expects to go further.