For every bowler, it’s a big deal winning your first club championship.
It’s an even bigger deal, when there’s more than just a few other bowlers in the field, and a large field of club members are eager to claim a championship crown.
And when some of those other club members are guns … particularly big guns … then lifting a title from the best of the best can truly be a magical experience.
Recently, Hitesh Ranchhod and Aaron White did just that – winning the Pairs Championship at the Hobsonville Club for their first time. Against a field of 11 other teams. And against defending champs Lloyd Wong and Warren Harding.
But what made Ranchhod’s and White’s victory all the more remarkable was that they were both first year bowlers. Both had taken up the game in September 2019, and less than 5 months later they were beating allcomers in the club’s most prestigious pairs event.
“It was an amazing couple of days,” says Ranchhod. “We had absolutely zero expectations at the start of the tournament. In fact we only entered at the last minute. Somehow we just got on an incredible run, that went on and on …”
AT the end of the day one round robin, Ranchhod and White had qualified a middle-of-the-pack fifth out of the 8 teams to go through. “Just qualifying was great,” adds White. “Coming back again on the Sunday was just icing on the cake.”
But the bowling gods were to smile on the pair on Sunday.
“In our first quarter-final game, we just kept converting our ends and not giving big ends away,” says Ranchod. “But we still couldn’t believe it when we won through to the semis.”
In the semis, they came up against club Secretary and Handicapper, Paul Thompson, and his lead Murray Wood. “Ranchhod put some amazing bowls on the head,” recalls White. “It made it easy for me as skip, and put the pressure right back on our opponents.”
Then more unbelievableness, as they find themselves in the final against Lloyd Wong and Warren Harding. “Not only were they the defending champions, but they were also our coaches. In any other sport, you would feel you have no right to be here. But that’s what makes bowls such a marvellous game.”
“We made a great start. At the 11th end, we were three ahead. But then we dropped a three and we were all level at 11 all. I remember thinking that we had probably done our dash. And that after overcoming their initial nerves, they were now going to put us to the sword as per our expectations … probably their expectations … and no doubt that watching club members’ expectations.”
But destiny wasn’t doing what it was told that day. Ranchhod and White held under pressure.
“We went three ahead again with two ends left to play. They got one back, and then it was all over. We had won!”
“Lloyd and Warren were really great about it. We just hope that one day, when the tables are turned, and some young whippersnappers beat us against all expectations, that we’re as gracious as them.”
“They just mumbled something about not going to coach us anymore!!”
Whilst it was Ranchhod’s first Club title, it was White’s fourth! He had already won the club’s first year singles, the one to five year singles, and the junior pairs (with another partner). All in the first season of playing the game.
White got into bowls when his wife had told him that he needed a hobby to get out of the house more often. So he responded by taking up the game that he’d been watching on the tele for years and years. “I love the game!” he says.
His day job is a race-caller with the TAB, calling the harness racing at racetracks around the upper North Island. He’s the one who people say ‘you’re that Aaron White’.
And like White, Ranchhod’s partner told him he needed to get out of the house more.
An avid cricketer in his younger years, Ranchhod’s always had that ‘competitive nature’. After spying a flyer about the Hobsonville Bowling Club on a local community notice board, Ranchhod decided to give it a try and hasn’t looked back since.
Ranchhod and White both say the friendships they have already made make bowling even more enjoyable.
Well done, guys!
Published with permission from Bowls NZ