Defending champions Sean Becker and Bridget Becker retained their stranglehold on the New Zealand Curling Championship titles when their teams won their respective Men's and Women's titles in Naseby this weekend.
Sean has now skipped the Men's champions every year since 2007, and Bridget's winning sequence has continued unbroken since the first separate Women's championship in 2005.
The 9 teams in the Men's draw were split into two pools. Sean Becker's rink comfortably won all of their matches to qualify top of their pool. The other 4 sides were fairly evenly matched, and going into the final round all had identical 1 win - 2 loss records and a chance of taking the other semi-final berth. John Campbell's Central Otago four recorded a last end 11-7 win over Kenny Williamson's Auckland side, and Charlie McLeod's Dunedin team needed an extra end to beat Sam Miller's young local squad 8-6. Campbell and McLeod both finished on 2 wins, but Campbell (Murray Petherick, Michael Smith, James Hazlett) went through to the semis with the best total draw shot distance. They qualified despite defaulting their opening game after starting the tournament a player short.
The other Men's pool also had a clear winner after Dan Mustapic (with Kenny Thomson, Lorne DePape and Doug Charko) winning 3 straight games. Auckland's Al Langille, Central Otago's Phil Dowling and the NZ Senior Mens team skipped by Peter Becker all finished pool play with a 1-2 win-loss record, but it was Langille who qualified with the superior DSD.
The round robin competition for the 5 women's teams was decisively won by Bridget Becker with a clean sheet. The NZ Senior Women's team skipped by her mother Wendy qualified second followed by Chelsea Farley's junior team and the local Lucy Harris side. Brittany Taylor's young squad played some good games but finished outside the semi-finals.
Bridget Becker was again decisive winning the first Women's semi-final against fourth qualifier Lucy Harris 11-1, and Chelsea Farley's young side played impressively to control their match against Wendy Becker from the outset to record a 10-5 win and reverse the earlier result betwen the teams.
Sean Becker's side faced their first real test of the championship when they met Al Langille in the first of the men's semi-finals. At the fifth end break the teams were level at 5-5. But immediately afterwards Becker made an excellent tap-back double to score 5 and take a decisive lead. They controlled the end game to run out with a 11-6 result. Dan Mustapic jumped out to an 8-0 lead after the first three ends against John Campbell and retained the advantage throughout to win 13-3.
Bridget Becker was again dominant in her Women's final against Chelsea Farley, scoring 11 while conceding just a single point to their young opponents. However, the juniors still impressed all in their first outing at the national tournament. The third-fourth playoff was also a one-sided affair with Wendy Becker taking the honours 9-3 against Lucy Harris.
The ice straightened a little in the afternoon, and as a result the Men's final was a dour, defensive battle. The Sean Becker team restricted Mustapic to singles and took their fourth consecutive national title 6-3.
The third-fourth playoff between Al Langille and John Campbell proved to be one of the best matches of the tournament though. Langille led 6-0 early, but Campbell scored heavily late in the match to see Langille down 7-10 coming home, and as he lined up his hammer stone he was 2 down. A superbly weighted double saw his opponent's two stones roll just outside the eight-foot ring, while he had three biting the eight-foot and the match went to an extra end. Campbell made no mistake here to take third place overall.
In the prizegiving at the conclusion of the final games, organiser Darren Carson complimented all participants on the ever-increasing standards of play and welcomed the increased fields, especially the growth in the number of Under-21 players competing in the full National championship.
Otago Daily Times articles
14 teams vie for National honours
24 June 2010 – Five Women's and nine Men's teams will be in Naseby next weekend seeking to win their respective 2010 New Zealand Curling Championshipships. 2009 champions Bridget Becker and Sean Becker will be back to defend their titles.
The initial stages of the Men's competition will be divided into two pools, with the top 2 sides from each pool progressing to the semi-finals. The Women's competition will be a single round robin, with the top 4 making the play-off rounds.
A feature of the Women's competition is the number of Junior players entered – half of the women playing will also be in action at Dunedin's NZ Under-21 championship in early October.
Pool play gets under way at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink on Friday 2 July and continues through Saturday. Semi-finals and finals will take place on Sunday.
Entries open for 2010 Nationals
31 May 2010 – The 2010 NZ National Fours Men's and Women's Curling Championships will be held at Naseby's Maniototo Curling International rink on 2-4 July. Entries are now open and will close on Monday 21 June 2010. Early entries would be appreciated.
Note from Selectors:- If you are interested in being a National representative at any level you need to be involved. If you are not in a team and would like to take part, please contact the Rink, they may be able to assist.
Competition will start on Friday afternoon, 2nd July. Start time to be 2pm Friday.
The format will likely be two pools of Round Robin, then semis and finals on Sunday 4th July, timed to finish before 4.00pm. There will be a 5 minute practice prior to each game with a draw-shot distance to determine the hammer. Each game will have a half-time break of 4 minutes. Round Robin 8 ends, 10 end semis and finals, depending on time.