YOUNGSTERS CONTINUE TO SHINE AT SHOOT-OUT
Teenage skip Fay Henderson demonstrated her readiness for competition at senior level when she led her team to victory in the decisive final round of matches at the September Shoot-Out to knock this year's Scottish Championship finalists out of the event.
The 18-year-old kept the match alive by drawing to the button with three shots lying against her at the penultimate end, then held her nerve again at the extra end to claim the vital 8-7 win over Team Wilson.
“That was probably quite a key shot at the seventh end, because if not we’d have been two down going into the last, which would have been a bit of a struggle and we managed to keep things under control at the extra end,” Henderson observed afterwards.
She admitted they had surprised themselves by reaching the play-off stages of this specially organised Covid friendly event at the National Curling Academy in Stirling.
“It feels pretty good to get a second win on the board. We came here this weekend not expecting to make the semi-finals, so we’ve done ourselves proud,” she said.
They now head into a semi-final against a more experienced line-up, skipped by Gina Aitken who won three of their four matches to find second in the round-robin behind Team Muirhead, who earned automatic qualification for the final with their clean sweep of wins.
“It’s our first event as a team and we’re looking forward to playing Team Aitken again,” said Henderson.
“We obviously played them in the round-robin, but that was the first game and now we’ve got a bit more ice time under our belt so we’ll go and give it a try.”
After watching that encounter, British Curling’s Performance Director Nigel Holl expressed satisfaction with both the quality of the competition and the selectors decision-making that is allowing a new generation of talented players to emerge.
“They’re a brilliant example of the quality of youngsters we’ve got coming through the programme, which is part of the reason we’ve invested in a number of promising young teams at Foundation level,” he said of Henderson.
That also applied in the men’s event, where Ross Whyte’s line-up capitalised on their wins over the country’s top two teams on the opening day by completing a 100 per cent record with victory over Team Craik to claim their place in the final.
That left Team Mouat, the Scottish champions of the last three years and fellow Grand Slam winners Team Paterson battling for the right to meet one another in the semi-final and they only achieved that thanks to their superior draw shot challenge performances after they both tied with Team Bryce on two wins apiece.
Bruce Mouat’s team lost their first two matches before rallying, whereas their rivals have had the opposite record, but following his rink’s 6-2 loss to Cameron Bryce’s team in the final round of matches, Ross Paterson noted that it will, as ever, be a fresh start come the knockout stages.
“It’s been a story of two halves in the event so far,” he said.
“We had two good wins yesterday and then I had a shot to beat Ross (Whyte) last night at an extra end that I’d normally fancy myself to make and missed it by an inch. We put ourselves in a position to win the game which is all we could have asked for. Today we didn’t didn’t play badly against Bryce, but we gave up a steal and chased from there.
“I think tomorrow we’ll concentrate on the good stuff that we’ve done in the games that we’ve played, try to put the losses behind us and then we’re in the same position as the other teams and have as much chance as everybody else.
“We just need to come out firing tomorrow. It’s one of these events where every team that’s here is good, so there’s no gimme games. It’s about grinding out results now when we’re in that knockout stage and we’ve got to play hard tomorrow and see what happens.”
First and foremost, however, Paterson said that all the players have relished getting the competitive juices flowing again.
“British Curling has done a great job,” he said.
“We’re obviously in a difficult position with what we can do and we’ve got to try to make the most of that as an organisation. The ice has been good, teams have been playing well and we’ve all been needing it.
“We’ve enjoyed it so far and we’re pretty much where we wanted to be at the start. Straight into the final was the A choice, but we’ve come through another road and we’ve just got to get two wins to finish the weekend.”
The event and new guidelines:
The competition format follows and adheres to Scottish Curling’s published return to curling guidance (as approved by sportscotland).
The return to training and the internal competition at the NCA follows approval from the Scottish Government /sportscotland and includes specific protocols such as daily medical monitoring for all athletes and staff, venue specific changes, cleaning and sanitising routines.
British curling notes the latest restrictions introduced 22/9/20 as a result of COVID and has ensured that the approach to the internal competition and ongoing training thereafter complies fully and athletes and staff have been fully briefed on the latest guidance and their responsibilities as a result.
Day 1 Draw 1
Muirhead 9 - Wilson 1
PATERSON 8 - CRAIK 3
WHYTE 6 - MOUAT 3
Aitken 8 - Henderson 2
Day 1 Draw 2
BRYCE 3 - CRAIK 1
Muirhead 6 - Aitken 4
Henderson 7 - Farmer 3
PATERSON 6 - MOUAT 3
Day 1 Draw 3
WHYTE 6 PATERSON 5 (EE)
MOUAT 9 BRYCE 4
Aitken 10 Wilson 0
Muirhead 8 Farmer 3
Day 2 Draw 4 SKINS
WHYTE beat CRAIK
MOUAT beat PATERSON
Muirhead beat Aitken
Farmer beat Wilson
Day 2 Draw 5
Muirhead 6 Henderson 2
Wilson 7 Farmer 6
MOUAT 6 CRAIK 3
WHYTE 6 BRYCE 2
Day 2 Draw 6
Aitken 7 Farmer 2
WHYTE 8 CRAIK 1
BRYCE 6 PATERSON 2
Henderson 8 Wilson 7 (EE)
Day 3 Draw 7 Semi Finals
PATERSON v MOUAT
Aitken v Henderson