2022 Australian Open preview

by Val Febbo

After three long years the Australian Open is finally back to full strength, with players from all corners of the nation and abroad congregating on the Gold Coast for the most high stakes event in its history.

“We’re thrilled to host the world’s biggest bowls festival right here on the Gold Coast, open to all players right across the globe to battle it out for some serious prize money,” said Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate.

“I applaud Bowls Australia and Major Events Gold Coast for bringing together this exciting tournament. Bring it on.”

For the first time in the sectional play format of the event, there will be no men’s singles ‘next best qualifiers’, making every win vital and every loss a ramification that could spell the end for one’s event.

The defending men’s champion in Aaron Wilson will return to the tournament, fresh off an undefeated Trans Tasman, albeit on much slower greens than the ones he will find at Broadbeach.

His section consists of Nathan Terelinck from New South Wales, Michael Humphreys from Victoria and Glenn Pauling from Western Australia.

Wilson’s fellow 2022 Commonwealth Games teammate in Barrie Lester has drawn a fairly tricky group set to grace the greens of Helensvale on Monday, with fellow Jackaroo Matt Lucas in his section, along with Victorian Ian Hosken and New South Welshman Shayne Dodd.

Birmingham-bound Ben Twist also faces a tough sector, most notably against Queensland stalwart Jamie Andersonwho reached the men’s fours final just last year.

Corey Wedlock and Carl Healey will also be in action, with fellow Australian representatives Aaron Teys and Cody Packer.

Three-time singles champion and recently crowned five-time Bowls Premier League (BPL) MVP Aron Sherriff will also be in action over the coming weekend, with South Australia’s Rob Gill and the Club Pine Rivers duo of Trentan Healey and Peter Hughes accompanying him in the section.

Former pairs and singles winner Ryan Bester sits in the draw to take on Lloyd Laccarino from Victoria, Queensland’s Albert Gibbs and Western Australian Peter Flack, while 2017 singles champion Nathan Pedersen stands out as a name to watch among the field.

Nick Cahill, the number one ranked bowler in the nation, will look to play a significant role in this event, as will number two Thor Shannon and Cahill’s fellow Queenslanders in Jacob and Kane Nelson.

An in-form Taelyn Male is set to take to the green following a sensational BPL15 campaign at Pine Rivers just a fortnight ago, with 2020 Australian Champion of Champions conqueror Trystan Smallacombe looking to make a charge at the tournament.

Former Jackaroo Ray Pearse, 2019 Australian Indoors winner Robert Briglia, 2021 fours finalist Scott De Jongh and Scottish star Kevin Anderson stand out as contenders, while 2021 national champions in Blake Nairn (singles) and Paul Sinden (fours) will return to the scene of their triumphs from April.

Switching to the women’s draw and it will be yet another star-studded field, with Birmingham-bound defending champion Natasha Van Eldik again one of the pre-event favourites.

The Jackaroo is situated in a quartet with Queensland’s two-time pairs winner Noelene Dutton, Victorian Isabella Hosken and South Australia’s Judith Katsivas.

Nine-time Australian Open winner Lynsey Clarke will look to add to her illustrious CV at the tournament as she kicks off yet another campaign, this time against Helen WardPamela Willetts and Janet Gray.

Clarke’s usual partner in crime in Kelsey Cottrell takes her place in the field with hopes of defending her Player of the Tournament crown.

The most intriguing section of the draw takes place in number 24, with best friends andJackaroos duo Ellen Ryan and Kristina Krstic set to do battle against each other in the same group, but with an ability to be a next best qualifier, a loss might not be as dire as in the men’s event.

Australian teammate and 2019 pairs champion Genevieve Delves will be one to watch, with Carol White from New South Wales and the Victorian duo of Kelly Norris and Robyn Donoghue standing in her way of a knockout stage berth.

Delves’ partner in that 2019 run and fellow Jackaroo Dawn Hayman will present a solid challenge to any of her combatants, with the Queensland duo of Brenda Thompson and Ellen Joselin along with Colleen Minehan from New South Wales her sectional opponents.

Another dangerous prospect for any bowler will be Australian international Chloe Stewart, who will be as motivated as ever to add to her pair of fours medallions with a singles triumph.

Recent international debutant and 2021 women’s singles runner-up Jamie-Lee Worsnop looks ready to return to the second week of the tournament, as will Emerging Jackaroo twins Bolivia and Cassandra Millerick, who are both fresh off national titles in April.

Birmingham-bound Serena Bonnell will be striving to further her fantastic year, while former under-18 girls victors Kate Argent-Bowden and Kira Bourke will look to make a run deep in the main event.

Former Australian Champion of Champions winner Colleen Orr will be another danger for the competitors in a bid to win a maiden Australian Open crown.

The 2022 Australian Open will run from the June 11-24, 2022 on the Gold Coast in Queensland with Rinkside Live coverage from 9am AEST each day on Bowls Australia’s Facebook page.