England Open Report 2011 – Supported by Winmau
With the prize money having been increased to a record breaking level it was very pleasing to see that the fourth England Open staged at the ever impressive Bunn Leisure by the England Darts Organisation (EDO) saw a record number of players fighting it out for not only the prize money but also the very important Lakeside points.
As well as players from the British Isles there were also players from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Holland and Poland who had made their way to West Sussex.
The first event of the long weekend was the Early Bird competition, which after a slow start last year really took off this time and when entries were closed there was a total of 104 players chasing the £1,000 winner^s prize.
The whole event was closely contested from start to finish and it was to be the case in the final as Alan Norris edged an eleventh leg decider over Dean Winstanley to take the first title of the weekend. The losing semi finalists were Mark Blandford and Andy Beardmore.
As with many tournaments, the first night saw a cash competition (this was not included in the massive £27,000 put up by Bunn Leisure) but it is a great start for many people to the weekend. This year the EDO decided to run a separate competition for both the ladies and men and there was an amazing entry as 233 men and 35 ladies entered the respective events which saw £2,500 at stake and this was just a curtain raiser.
The eventual winners were Scott Waites who beat Danny Smith 3-2, the losing semi finalists were Glenn Durrant and Andy Beardmore. The Ladies winner was Lisa Ashton who beat Lorraine Farlam 3-0 with the losing semi finalists being Barbara Legge and Marlene Badger.
Saturday saw the main events of the weekend and there were a total of 161 ladies and 524 men chasing the respective singles titles, both records for the singles at Bunn Leisure.
Both the defending champions (Trina Gulliver & Dean Winstanley) were there to try and take the titles again and for a long time it looked as though they were on course to achieve a double, but it came to an end in the quarter finals for Dean as he lost to Ted Hankey, whilst Trina went one better before losing to Karen Lawman in the semi final.
With such a high quality field it was inevitable that there would be some shock casualties but by the time the quarter finals of the Mens Singles was reached there was still eight International players fighting for the £5,000 first prize.
During the weekend the EDO were trialling some live streaming, unfortunately there was a problem with the Bunn Leisure broadband that didn’t allow for it to be broadcast but it was a worthwhile exercise as many things were learned for the future and all four of the Mens quarter finals were played on the dedicated board, which allowed a good crowd to watch some very good matches which eventually saw Ted Hankey, Benito van de Pas, Gary Robson and Tony O’Shea take their place in Sunday’s semi finals.
Meanwhile in the Ladies Singles the quarter finals saw five of the current England team, joined by players from Finland, Wales and England and eventually the semi finalists were Karen Lawman, Trina Gulliver, Kirsi Vinikainen and Lisa Ashton.
In a very busy day the Ladies and Mens Pairs were also played down to Sunday’s final. In the Ladies it was the local Sussex pairing and defending champions of Donna Rainsley & Trish Kidd who once again reached a Bunn Leisure final where they were to face Trina Gulliver & Lisa Ashton.
In the Men^s Pairs the Surrey pairing of Paul Neate and Aaron Turner beat Ross Montgomery & Martin Adams to set up a final against the defending champions Paul Hogan & Paul Gibbs who beat Scott Waites & Garry Thompson in their semi final.
So a long Saturday was finally over and all that was left to play was the Mixed Triples and the Youth events before the stage finals.
There was a fantastic entry in the youths as 16 girls and 62 boys set out on an adventure that would lead to both winners qualifying for the Winmau World Masters.
The eventual finalists were Stacey Patterson (Derbyshire) and Stacey Ellis (Essex) in the girl^s with Nick Kenny (Gwent) and Craig Brown (Isle of Wight) in the boy^s.
In the Mixed Triples the two teams reaching the final were Garry Thompson, Dave Calvert & Dee Bateman who had to play David Pallet, Ash Khayat & Linda Jones.
So the finals started in the afternoon with a packed crowd, some of which were watching from the newly installed Bunn Leisure balconies.
The first matches to be played were the Ladies Singles semi finals and both of them were to go the full seven legs. In the first game Trina Gulliver stormed into a 3-1 lead that included a 17 dart opening leg and a 118 shot out in the third leg, but Karen Lawman hung in and when Trina missed the bullseye on 90 in the sixth leg to take the match Karen stepped in to take the game to a deciding leg. Karen won the bull to start the final leg and just 18 darts later a 75 shot out had secured her a place in the final.
The second semi final was again a closely contested game between Finland’s Kirsi Vinikainen and Lisa Ashton. It ebbed and flowed one way and then the other before Lisa missed one dart to win 4-2 only for Kirsi to take out 56 to force a seventh leg decider. Lisa won the bull for first throw but could not take advantage and two more darts at a double proved very costly as the lady who had travelled further than anyone else to be there finished on 40 in 21 darts to take her place in the final.
The Mens Singles semi finals started with Ted Hankey looking for his second England Open title against yet another rising star from Holland, Benito van de Pas, unfortunately the youngster never got going to show the form that has already seen him take the German Open title and Ted took the match 5-0.
In the second semi final a much closer match was expected between Tony O’Shea and Gary Robson but Tony missed eight darts at a double in the first leg and Gary took control of the match as he took out a 146 finish for a twelve dart leg in the fifth leg to move into a 4-1 lead. Tony rallies by taking the next two legs, including a 12 darter of his own with a 101 shot out, but Gary was not to be denied as a 180 in the eighth leg helped him secure his place against Ted in the final.
The first of the finals saw the Mixed Triples title go to the mixture of youth and experience as David Pallet, Ash Khayat & Linda Jones beat Garry Thompson, Dave Calvert & Dee Bateman 3- 1.
Next up was the Ladies Pairs finals and the defending champions of Donna Rainsley & Trish Kidd were playing in their third consecutive Bunn Leisure Ladies Pairs final against the pairing of Trina Gulliver & Lisa Ashton. However after taking the opening leg the Sussex girls could not stop the two England players taking the title with a 3-1 victory, Lisa missed the bull for a 161 out before Trina took out the 25 for the title.
The Men^s Pairs final was to be a repeat of the Ladies as the Surrey pair of Paul Neate & Aaron Turner took the opening leg when Aaron took out a 130 finish (60, 20 & Bull) but the defending Champions Paul Hogan & Paul Gibbs were not to be denied and after Hogan took out 78 in the second leg it was one way traffic as the two Paul’s secured another title with a 3-1 victory.
The Girls Youth final was a very good match as 14 year old Josie Patterson took out 42 in two darts to take the opening leg before 17 year old Stacey Ellis showed the form that has already seen her gain a place in the senior Essex team by taking the next three legs for the title, their averages were Josie 19.78 and Stacey 20.99.
The Boy^s Youth final was contested by two 17 year olds and was a close match all the way through in the best of seven final. The first four legs went with the throw before Craig Brown moved ahead by taking the fifth leg against the darts only for Nick Kenny to take the sixth after Craig had missed one dart at the bull for the match. The deciding leg and the title went to Craig as he took advantage of winning the bull by finishing 32 in 18 darts with Nick sitting on 56.
So it was just the two showcase finals to go with respective winning prizes of £2,000 for the Ladies and £5,000 for the Mens at stake.
The Ladies final between England’s Karen Lawman and Finland’s Kirsi Vinikainen, it was the Finnish lady that took the first leg and she did have seven darts to take the second as well, before Karen took the leg and the next two for a 3-1 lead, but Kirsi took the fourth leg in 18 darts with the aid of a 180. In the sixth leg Kirsi missed two darts off 55 to force the match into a deciding leg, but Karen was not going to give her any more chances as she finished 40 to take the title.
It meant that Karen had achieved a remarkable treble at the England Open as in 2009 she took the Ladies Pairs, in 2010 she won the Mixed Triples, so she now has the full set and with it some very valuable points in her quest for a 2012 Lakeside place.
So onto the last match of a great weekend as the Men^s Singles took to the stage. In the first leg Gary Robson had already bust his score only to see Ted Hankey take advantage with a 117 (60, 17 & Tops) to take the opening leg. Gary came back to level the match before taking out 76 in two darts after Ted had missed a shot on 82, Ted took the fourth leg with a two dart 81 finish to leave the match delicately poised at 2-2.
From here on the match was a case of what could have been for Ted as he missed doubles in the next three legs as Gary took out shots of 24, 84 and 107 to put him on the verge of victory. Just 15 darts later a 106 shot out rewarded Gary "Robbo" Robson with the 2011 England Open Men^s Singles Championship title 2011 and a handsome winner^s cheque for £5,000.