Kelsey Cottrell in action at the Australian Open. Photo: Christina Prochazka
Kelsey Cottrell in action at the Australian Open. Photo: Christina Prochazka

Sweet Australian Open victory for champion

Coolum teenager Kelsey Cottrell completed her Cinderella return to competitive bowls last Saturday by capturing the women’s singles final at the Australian Open.

The 18-year-old, who took a six month break from the game last year to concentrate on her Year 12 studies at Coolum High, claimed the nation’s biggest prize with a 10-8, 2-9, 3-2 triumph over Scottish international Kay Moran.

During a stunning tournament, Cottrell was down and out on two separate occasions, landing killer blows with her final bowls of the quarter and semifinals to keep her dreams alive.

“This is unbelievable,” an elated Cottrell said.

“This ranks right at the top (of my victories). Right at the top.”

With the women’s field whittled down to just two, Cottrell, who moved to the Gold Coast last month, ensured Australia would have a representative at this year’s World Champion of Champions in Scotland, completing a tournament she seemed destined to win.

During a golden run in 2007, Cottrell claimed the Queensland and New South Wales Opens, as well as reaching the final of the Australian Indoor, but the Australian Open had eluded her at every turn.

Despite reaching the quarter-finals of last year’s event before taking her self imposed hiatus, the Queenslander ensured this year’s crown was hers as she overcame a slow start to claim the first set.

Down 0-3 after the opening end, Cottrell secured a single to cut the margin, but when Moran took a double on the second, things looked grim.

With the crowd urging her on, she finally found her radar as she honed in on the jack, securing a triple of the fourth to swing the momentum her way.

Chipping away at the score line, a treble to Moran on the seventh threw a spanner in the works, but the South Tweed club’s new star fought back to take the first set by two shots.

While Cottrell immediately began well with a double playing to the north end, which she had dominated since the match commenced, Moran snatched the momentum as she peeled off nine shots over seven ends to take the second.

With a tie-break required, Cottrell was holding shot before she drew a second and a third to jump out to a handy buffer.

While the Scot claimed back-to-back singles, it was the Australian who had her nose in front when the dust settled as she collected the $18,000 winners’ cheque.

“I can’t wait to get home now,” Cottrell said.

“I can start house hunting. This is huge.”

With her confidence riding high, Cottrell will now represent Australia at next week’s Perth International alongside Karen Murphy, Robbie Thompson and Leif Selby.

The four-nation tournament, which features Malaysia, England and Scotland, commences from March 3 to 9.

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