Bowls: Lorna Smith bids for fourth titie in row

Linlithgow's Lorna Smith has tasted success at the Nationals in the past three years. Pic: Rob Eyton-Jones

Linlithgow's Lorna Smith has tasted success at the Nationals in the past three years. Pic: Rob Eyton-Jones

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Three-time singles champion Lorna Smith is the stand-out name in the ladies field of this year’s National Championships as the Linlithgow ace aims to win her fourth title in a row at Ayr’s Northfield Bowls Complex.

The Ladies Singles begins on Friday and Smith carries the weight of expectation as she bids to secure an unprecedented quadruple. However, the former World No.1’s career profile is impressive and shows that she thrives under such pressure. She kicks off her campaign against Alex MacInness, who is representing Nairn’s St Ninian Bowling Club, at 9am.

Edinburgh’s hopes of singles glory in Ayrshire are in good hands. Seasoned Beechwood campaigner Betty Eaton of District 15 and her District 14 counterpart Chloe Thomson (Tanfield) are the Capital’s most likely success stories and Eaton begins her challenge at 11am against Julie McDowell of Dumfries’ Maxwelltown club, while 18-year-old Thomson is up at 9am against Audrey Stewart of Canmore BC, Forfar.

The District 16 and 17 champions, in the shape of Midlothian’s Stacey McDougall and East Lothian’s Janet Fairnie, are both talented campaigners to keep an eye on this week.

McDougall, of Dalkeith BC, who is better recognised under her maiden name of Laidlaw, has nine full indoor caps under her belt, holds the Junior Singles crown and has won the Pairs in the past, so she is no stranger to the big stage. She opens against Val McGregor of Lochelly at 11am, while at the same time Fairnie of Castlepark faces Kirsty Sinclair of Polmuir.

The highest profile Pairs partnership from Edinburgh and The Lothians is that of defending champions Sandra Steven and Kirsteen McLelland of Uphall Station and West Lothian respectively. The duo are seeking a fourth title success in the event.

The Colinton banner is a regular sight at these championships down the years and that tradition is being maintained by Sandra Slater and Cathy Stark, while Zandra Kinnear and Bunty Williamson of Goldenacre represent the other half of the Capital.

Sisters Emma and Lauren McNaughton of Gilmerton Private represent the Midlothian banner, while doing battle for East Lothian are Mary Talbot and Reva Campbell of Longniddry.

Uphall Station launch their campaign at midday tomorrow, while the others parade their skills in the 9am session.

The District 14 champions in the Triples are the Hillside trio of Lorraine Livingston, Cathy Ward and June Woodall, who have additional 
experience from the Edinburgh Bowling League (EBL). Corstorphine are the District 15 champions and they also compete in the recently-formed EBL women’s event, so Beryl Sutherland, Ellen Hay and Theresa Blair come into this championship in good nick.

Both clubs enter the fray at 9am on Friday, with Corstorphine facing Holytown and Hillside tackling East Lothian champions Margaret Nisbet, Maureen Lorimer and Irene Robertson of North Berwick.

Buccleuch carries the Midlothian banner against Perth, while West Lothian champions Deans face Blacklands & District. Both ties are scheduled for the midday session.

The Buchan Park Seniors Fours challengers – in the shape of Nancy Raeburn, Marguerite Bradbury, Margaret Kain and Jennifer Sneddon – get two bites of the cherry as they also carry the WL banner in the Fours proper.

Anne Watson forms a strong partnership at third to Alison Ross in the Bainfield rink, which is completed by Susan Allan and Julia Fairgrieve, while Willowbrae is represented by Mary Harvey, Joa Neish, Sylvia Napier and Frances Wood.

Leanne Baillie skips the Cockenzie & Port Seton rink for East Lothian, while Cathie Pender skips the Kirkhill rink for Midlothian.

The Junior Singles starts on Saturday, with the Edinburgh challenge in the hands of Tanfield’s 20-year-old Nicole McKean, while Lisa Barrett of Kirkliston represents the West Lothian banner.