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Worthy singles champions to be crowned

“I CAN”, “I have”, “I am”.

That’s what bragging rights allow you to say if you win a Gisborne East Coast centre singles title.

The prestigious women’s and men’s singles crowns are up for grabs this weekend.

Twenty-two players have entered the Brown Whanau Trophy women’s champs, with section play at Gisborne Bowling Club tomorrow and post-section play at Kahutia.

The Martin Cup men’s champs have attracted 26 entries, who will play at Kahutia over both days.

The top 16 in both genders qualify for Sunday’s post-section play.

The usual favourites are there in the women’s singles — players such as defending champion Marie Wright and Dayvinia Mills, who I cannot see missing the cut for Sunday.

Ngawai Turipa has a tough challenge ahead of her in section play as she faces Wright, Mills and Queenie Takurua, who Wright has beaten in the final in the past two years.

It’s good to see nine of the women entered are players of under-8 years experience.

This will give them every opportunity to test their ability against tougher opponents.

For the favourites, there appears to only one round that could prove a tough encounter but I have seen many an upset over my years of playing and, like most, enjoying it when the underdogs give it to the big guns.

The men’s event features a star-studded line-including defending champion and 78-years-young Robin Jefferson, who is in good form.

Last year’s runner-up July Williams is also back and will be hungry to go one step further than his 21-16 loss to Jefferson in the title decider.

Leighton Shanks, back from university, is in good touch as well and is capable of being there at the end.

Jamey Ferris, who has won this title a couple of times, could be the one to beat. He didn’t play last year but has proved how strong he is with four bowls in hand.

Ferris faces Jefferson in the fourth round but that should be his only challenge of the day.

Brothers Brendon and Adam McIlroy have also entered.

Adam won both his singles games in GEC’s inter-centre fixture against tough Hawke’s Bay opposition recently so his confidence should be high.

Brendan is no slouch either, having represented GEC and Hawke’s Bay.

Father Bob McIlroy also has the ability to go a long way in this tournament.

It’s good to see entries from Wairoa and Tolaga Bay in both champs.

Nine junior players have entered the men’s competition and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

The suggestion that both fields are not strong this year could be strongly debated.

Whittle away those looking for experience, the fields are as tough as ever. Whoever is standing at the end will be a deserved winner.

REIGNING CHAMP: Men's defending champion Robin Jefferson.
REIGNING CHAMP: Women’s defending champion Marie Wright.