The NSW Gateball Championships were held in Young, NSW, over the weekend of 17-19 November. New South Wales was represented by 6 teams, one of which was strengthened by the inclusion of Queensland’s Bruce McAlister. Victoria was represented by five players from Kew and one from Essendon. The remaining CNSW team was from Canberra.
Young had generously stepped into the breach to host the tournament on short notice and provided an excellent venue for the event. This was Young’s first gateball competition and their friendly welcome was appreciated by all. High-quality gateball was on display for the entire weekend.
The pairs competition was held on the Friday, with 14 pairs competing. Philip Brown and Kerry Seipolt went through the rounds undefeated, topping their block and winning a semi-final over Kerrie Sutherland and Judy Squelch. Peter Freer and Hilary White topped the second block, but lost to Elaine Coverdale and Trish Watts in the semi-final. That left four Victorians playing the doubles final. Nerves got the better of both pairs early in the final, before giving way to a free-flowing and hard-fought game. Elaine made a magnificent touch-and-gate, but tactical positioning of sequential balls saw Philip and Kerry win back control and go on to take the final 12 points to 9.
Some CNSW players remembered a visit to Young to introduce gateball 6 years earlier when temperatures had reached 40 plus! This weekend did not reach extremes of temperature but was was an exercise in contrasts with torrential rain on the Saturday dampening the courts, but not the spirits of the competitors. The rain had cleared by the Sunday and the tournament finished in blazing sunshine.
The hosts, Young, made their competition debut and impressed everyone with their sharp improvement over the tournament and won the prize for the best new team in the process. The final match of the round-robin saw eventual semi-finalists the Newcastle Sabres scrape home 14-12 over the home team in front of a cheering crowd.
Kew and Jamberoo dominated the round-robin stage, both taking six wins from the seven games. Kew’s sole loss was to Jamberoo, while Jamberoo were bested by perennial strong performer Canberra. It seemed fitting that the team final saw Kew and Jamberoo take each other on for the second time.
Jamberoo made the early running in the final, but an excellent long-range touch from Elaine turned the tables. Kew dominated the middle third of the game, scoring heavily and scattering the opponents’ balls. While Jamberoo came back in the later stages of the match, Kew held on to win by 13 points to 10.
In his winner’s speech, Philip acknowledged the tussle between the two teams in both the round robin and finals stages. As runners up, Jamberoo’s Manuel Gutierrez noted that his team had won the new teams trophy at Maitland a few years ago and thereby set up the challenge for Young!
As always, detailed results are available on gateballscores.com
The event was opened by local Mayor, Brian Ingham who stroked a ball through the ceremonial gate with the aplomb of an experienced player.
Also worthy of note was that the event was run by the concerted efforts of a number of CNSW clubs. The position of state chair of gateball has been vacant since mid October. Mary Dunn has volunteered for the position and she will be sending her nomination in to CNSW as soon as possible. Mary awarded the prizes at the end of the competition. Thanks were also given to Maggi Williams of Lithgow who undertook the administration necessary for the competition to proceed.
Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone involved in making a wonderful tournament happen.