It was Ra'anana's day on Saturday when it walked away with top honors in both the men's and women's pre-Passover singles tournaments in Ramat Gan, thanks to Raymond Sher and Laureen Harris. In both tournaments it was the host Ramat Gan players who bit the dust.
Sher came through against Boaz Marcus in a keenly contested game of high quality, and it took a late effort by Sher to edge out his opponent. Marcus, with admirably consistent drawing, was two or three shots ahead up to the 21st end, when he led 16-12. But it was Sher's steady nerve that got him a three count on the next end to close the gap for a one-shot difference at 16-15.
But Marcus didn't get flustered, and with an excellent last bowl removed Sher's lying shot to collect two and return to his three-shot lead at 18-15. The seasoned Sher stood his ground to come back with a three when Marcus failed to remove Sher's bowls around the jack. At 18-all, Marcus yet again collected a single to lead 19-18 after 23 ends. The last end then followed, and with Sher now the more consistent, holding three shots for game, Marcus's last bowl was - somewhat unexpectedly - short of the target, leaving Sher to claim his well-earned 21-19 win.
While this was Sher's first time winning this kind of tournament, Marcus ended runner-up for the second year in succession, having won the title in 2007.
In the morning's semifinal, Sher beat his club mate Selwyn Hare 21-13. Hare, the recent winner of the Novices title, plays the gentle game of bowls with the same deftness as when he captained Israel's rugged national rugby team in the early '90s. In the other semifinal, Marcus beat Haifa's Harry Katz 21-17.
Like Sher, Laureen Harris also required steady nerve to win her game against the more experienced Tzilla Gavish. With accurate drawing, Harris led throughout the game and was 14-8 ahead after 12 ends. Gavish closed the gap to 14-13, but Harris remained in complete control, winning the last five ends for a well-deserved 21-13 win. Harris, the present national singles title holder, will be participating soon in the World Champion of Champions Tournament in Scotland.
In a morning semifinal, Gavish won 21-17 against Haifa's Noga Bachrach, who challenged her experienced opponent with excellent bowling throughout the game; Harris beat Dolores Linde, a previous teammate, 21-8. Linde, now in her late 70s, gave a creditable performance, maintaining skill and tenacity after winning the title last year.
Sitting by and watching diligently was Dolores Linde's husband Hilly, who encouraged his wife but was also proud of Harris, whom he had taught and coached.
Hilly Linde took a few minutes to chat with Ramat Gan bowler Asher Blut, both former international soccer players who played against each other in 1954 - when Linde played for Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia) against Israel's touring team, which at the time included Blut.
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