A strong field assembled at Melton Indoor Bowls Club on Wednesday for the last 16 of the national women’s indoor pairs championship, including two former champion pairs, from Blackpool Newton Hall and Nottingham.
Blackpool duo Sue Kearsley and Janice Gower, who won the title two years ago were put to the sword by Welsh-born Sue Evans and her Taunton Deane clubmate Kirsty Hembrow, 19-11.
But Nottingham’s Sue Mart and Pam Cutts, who were champions in 2008 and 2013, sailed into the quarter-finals with a 23-11 win over Di Double and Jenny Annand, from the King George Field club in Tolworth.
Both pairs made further progress on Wednesday evening as Evans and Hembrow beat Julie Leake and Lyn Howard (Dolphin) in the last eight 19-10, and Mart and Cutts defeat Ipswich duo Anna Chalk and Katherine Rednall 16-11 - two-thirds of the team which won the triples title on Tuesday.
Ipswich trailed Egerton Park’s Alice Philimore and Mandy Carrie, 8-5, after eight ends in the morning session, but took control with a six-count on the 11th end, and cantered to a 11-10 victory.
But they could not escape from the clutches of the Nottingham pair, for whom Mart earned much praise for her impeccable drawing to the jack.
Katy Baxter and Dani Martinson, the back-end of the Hornsea quartet which won the fours title on Sunday, carried on where they left off in the last 16, collecting two fives and a six on their way to a 29-5 win over perennial qualifiers Sue Duck and Sylvia Bloomfoeld (Tye Green).
But they, too, bit the dust in Wednesday evening’s quarter-finals, when they were edged out, 18-16, by Banbury’s Carole Galletly and Kath Hawes.
England team captain Sandy Hazell, who won the title with her then Mote Park clubmate Ann Hill in 2004, now plays for Sittingbourne club Swale, and is bidding for a repeat triumph with her good friend and clubmate Wendy King.
Hazell and King defeated Wellingborough’s Alison Dring and Tina Broderick, 24-9, then chalked up another impressive win over Bromsgrove duo Kirsty Richards and Diane Arnold, winning 23-8.
Thursday’s order of play at Melton IBC:
9.30am – Men’s Pairs semi-finals: Blackpool NH v Hartlepool; Huntingdon v Moonfleet 2000.
9.30am – Women’s Pairs semi-finals: Taunton Deane v Banbury; Swale v Nottingham.
1.30pm - Women’s Vivienne Trophy inter-club championship final: Lincoln v Palmerston.
5.45pm - Men’s and Women’s Pairs finals