The early days of the EIBA National Indoor Bowls finals at Melton were dominated by Devon as the first three titles went their way, in a manner of speaking.
The county won the under 25s team event on Sunday before two 26-year-olds Sam Tolchard and Louis Ridout, from the Torquay United club, pocketed the men’s pairs.
The Hitchin-based Riverain club landed the women’s pairs honours, led by Devon Cooper who became the youngest-ever national bowls champion in England. With skip Rachel Tremlett, the talented duo’s ages added up to an astonishing 31 years.
* Louis Ridout and Sam Tolchard were worthy winners of the men’s pairs, grinding out fine wins against tough oppeonents in the semis and final through consistency and a great understanding.
After reaching the final with a 24-15 win over City of Ely brothers Ed and Rob Elmore, they went on to a 25-15 final victory over Taylor Monk and Martyn Sekjer, from the Cyphers club in Beckenham.
The final was level at 4-4 after five ends, and the Cyphers duo edged ahead with a double to lead 6-4 after six ends.
A count of five on the seventh end put the Torquay duo ahead and they never looked back. From 17-14 after 15 ends, Ridout and Tolchard allowed their opponents only one more shot as they pressed for home, winning 25-15.
* Records tumbled in the women’s pairs final as Tremlett and Cooper toppled the hotly-tipped favourites, Anna Chalk and Katherine Rednall, from Ipswich, who themselves are both only 20.
Cooper made history as the youngest English player to win a national bowls title, while the pair are the youngest duo to do so.
The combined ages of the four finalists added up to 71 - an average age of less than 18 years.
Cooper and Tremlett played superbly throughout, but no-one expected them to run away with the final as they did.
Chalk and Rednall, who won the triples with Rednall’s mum last year, had won their two previous matches 34-9 and 31-9 respectively, including a semi-final win over 2011 and 2014 champions Sarah Seymour and Ellen Falkner.
The Ipswich pair led 5-0 after two ends, but Cooper and Tremlett hardly allowed them a look-in after that, responding with a four and a five, and opening a 21-12 lead after 14 ends.
They dropped a five on the 15th end, but regained their composure to win 29-19, sealing victory with a four on the last end.
“I just can’t help smiling,” said Tremlett. “When we arrived here yesterday, I just hoped we could do ourselves justice in our first game, and that we wouldn’t be outclassed. I can’t believe we’ve won!”
* In the men’s under 25 inter-county championship final, inaugural champions Devon chalked up a record fourth victory.
They took charge of the 2016 final from the start, beating Suffolk 46-30, and did so playing on the adjoining rink to Tolchard and Ridout who helped the county to their last victory in 2014.