Juniors shine at NZ Mixed Doubles

Ben and Jess Smith
Ben and Jess Smith in the Championship Final. Photo © NZCA

13 Aug 2018 – NZ Under-21 representatives Jessica and Ben Smith overcame five-time winners Bridget and Sean Becker to win their first NZ Mixed Doubles title in Naseby last weekend. They did it the hard way, overcoming a 4 point deficit in the opening end to triumph 6-5 in a very tense final.

The Smiths scored singles in the next four ends to draw level, but the turning point came in the sixth end.

Bridget Becker's last-stone hit to score a single rolled to the very edge of the house. Both umpires took some time with the biter stick before confirming that the stone was out of play, and so the end was blanked. Under Mixed Doubles rules that also meant they lost the hammer.

Ben and Jess then took their powerplay in the seventh and scored two. And when their opponents' last shot in the final end to score a second point and tie the game only feathered the target stone, they had their win.

"That was unbelievable, to be honest," said Ben Smith said after the game. "Dropping a 4 in the first, you don't expect to come back from that in a final, so we're pretty happy. I was hoping to get a 2 in the next end but only got one. That was ok, and we just kept coming back."

"We said let's just chip away at it, we'll get there," added Jess.

Courtney Smith and Hamish Walker won the bronze medal match 11-5 over Holly Thompson and Anton Hood, meaning that three of the top four places went to Junior (Under-21) teams.

Natalie Thurlow and Kieran Ford took out the Plate Final against the fast-improving Temika Apuwai-Bishop and Lawrence Bishop.