Rolling up to take on the men
NO ONE will be more fired-up to do well at this year's Summerland Pairs than Coral Withers.
The 51-year-old and her partner, Trish Pollard, are among a handful of women participating at this weekend's competition at the Ballina Bowling Club on Cherry St.
This is only the second year women have been permitted to enter the $11,000 tournament and mix it with their male counterparts.
Pottsville Beach Sports Club player Coral said she was looking forward to doing her bit for the fairer sex.
"I guess if you play against the men, there's a little bit of motivation to do well (for us)," she said.
"It can be satisfying (beating the men). Equally, it can be demoralising if you don't play very well.
"We were honoured to be accepted. I can see us doing reasonably well."
Last year, Musgrave Hill's Georgia White became the first woman to take part in the competition, one of the biggest tournaments on the region's annual calendar.
Former Australian Open contestant Withers said she was happy to deal with any unfavourable comments from her male opponents.
"I think it depends on the way it is said," she said. "If it's tongue-in-cheek then we'll play along, but if there's anything nasty then we'll deal with that.
"You will never change some people's thinking. You've just got to chip away a couple at a time.
"I think clubs need to have their men- and women-only events at a social level.
"I don't think it will change in some places. Some clubs would rather have less players than greens full.
"I do think times are changing. Perhaps down the track there will be a lot more mixed events."
Withers took up the sport about 24 years ago, influenced by her keen bowls-playing mum.
The left-hander said she was relishing the chance to play alongside partner Pollard.
"Trish has her head screwed on right, she said. "You can see the cogs whirring in her brain working out her shots.
"With players like Kris Lehfeldt and Brett Wilkie, it will be tough. There's a lot of strong teams. We'll see how we go."
The Summerland Pairs
What is the Summerland Pairs: 64 teams featuring some of the best players from the region and interstate.
Format: 16 groups of four teams, played over Friday and Saturday. Group winners go through to the knockout rounds.
Total prizemoney: $11,000 ($3200 first prizemoney)
Players to watch: Kris Lehfeldt/Brett WIlkie, Luke Jones/Luke Greenhalgh, Walter Jacobs/Kelvin Kerkow, Ben McCall/Bernie Melville, Greg Hickey/Terry Knudson.
Favourites: Last year's winners Lehfeldt and Wilkie will be tough to stop.
Dark horses: Casino's Garry Burt and South Lismore's David Ball make an experienced pairing and could make the latter stages.