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Ball wants more after rep debut

Gisborne teenager Ellen Ball got her first taste of representative women’s golf last weekend and is hungry for more.

The 14-year-old made her Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay debut in an interprovincial matchplay fixture against Wellington held on two Hawke’s Bay courses.

Fellow Poverty Bay member Tessa McDonald was also in the six-woman HBPB team who won 6½ to 5½.

Ball lost both her matches at No.6 in the team but that was secondary to the experience of playing at the higher level.

She was defeated 2 and 1 by Victoria Li in the first round at the Maraenui course in Napier, then lost 5 and 4 to Sissy Pelayo in the second round held at Bridge Pa, Hastings.

Li has a handicap index of 6.3; Pelayo’s is 5.9.

Ball is on 15.4 and had to play her opponents off the stick, so was more than happy with her results, particularly the first match.

“Pretty good, I played pretty well,” said the Gisborne Girls’ High School Year 10 student, who won’t forget her first shot.

“I was a bit nervous. I was first off and I hit my first shot 170 metres straight down the middle.”

Ball had Li a little worried when she got to 2-up. She led 1-up by the 10th tee before Li won a stream of holes to get to 3-up.

Ball fought back to 1-down but lost the 17th and the match.

Father Lyndsay Ball was on her bag for both rounds and was proud of his daughter’s efforts.

“She’s hitting the ball really well,” Lyndsay said, adding that the experience “has really got her going”.

Ball got into golf through her father. They regularly play together — $2 up for grabs each time — and he has made a point of instilling in her that she goes out to win . . . “a killer instinct” as he put it.

She’s out on the practice fairway every day and has regular sessions with professional Dave Keown.

She has also been learning plenty from playing with McDonald — a seasoned representative and the No.1 player in Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay.

Golf and school are her priorities and she is also a St John Youth cadet.

Ball has set herself the lofty goal of making the HBPB team for the national interprovincial.

On recent history and her enthusiasm and commitment to improving her game, she will give it a good crack.

At this time last year she was on a 33 handicap. She has reduced that by 17 shots and is closing in fast on her dad, whose index is 11.8.

It’s a case of watch this golfing space for Ellen Ball.

Tessa McDonald added to her impressive representative matchplay record with two wins against Wellington. Playing at No.3 in the team, she beat Lucy Davis 3 and 2 and Alanah Gullery 1-up. The clash with Gullery at Bridge Pa had a dramatic end. McDonald was 1-up playing the par-5 18th and put her third shot to about six feet from the pin. Gullery was also on for three, 20 feet away, and binned the birdie putt. McDonald, who had sunk nothing all round, came good at the right time, slotting her putt for victory. The other HBPB team members were Martha Manaena (Hastings), Aseri Meikle (Maraenui), Haena Seol (Napier) and Clare Choi (Maraenui).

REP TEAM: The Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay women’s golf team who played Wellington were (from left) Clare Choi, Aseri Meikle, Haena Seol, Martha Manaena, Tessa McDonald and Ellen Ball?. Picture supplied