Ramat Gan started pursuit of its third straight women's National Fives competition with four wins against Netanya in the first round of the annual tourney Saturday.
Despite wet conditions at the Ramat Hasharon club, enthusiasm was keen as seven clubs look to take top honors in the year's highly rated tournament.
The competition is played in the format of the quadrennial World Championships, where five players are split into the four disciplines of pairs, trips, singles and fours.
Ramat Gan got off to a good start by winning all four games against Netanya, recording the only "full house" in the day's play. Lining up in the pairs for Ramat Gan were Liat Atlas and Edna Zomberg, the national singles champion and runner-up, respectively.
The strong pair looked as if they were going to waltz to an easy win when they took a 10-3 lead against Netanya's Naomi Fletcher and Juliette Jackson after eight ends. But with unyielding resistance, the Netanyans fought back to win four successive heads and take an 11-10 lead at the 12th end. Jackson displayed accurate length while Fletcher often came in with excellent saving conversion shots.
But the Ramat Gan stars stood firm to collect a three immediately to lead 13-11, coming through with a 17-14 win.
The Ramat Gan triples team of Tami Kamzel, Tzila Gavish and Naomi Fix outplayed Netanya's Dolores Linde, Pam Bobrov and Laureen Harris to win 28-5. But in the fours match, Netanya came back strongly when Linde, skipping for Fletcher, Lynette Levius and Harris, almost turned an 8-20 deficit at the 11th end into a possible win when the scores were peeled at 20-all at the last head. Ramat Gan held on again when their foursome of Kamzel, Gavish, Zomberg and Fix took a two-count on the last head to win 22-20.
In the singles match, Ramat Gan's Liat Atlas, one of Israel's first international stars, beat Bernice Pillemer, less than half her opponent's age, 21-11.
An overall win would give Ramat Gan its third successive championship, a record matched by Ra'anana during the first three years after the tournament was inaugurated in 1987. That record was equaled by the now-defunct Kfar Hamaccabiah in the three following years.
Interestingly, since the tournament's inauguration until 1997, the overall winners were either Ra'anana or Kfar Hamaccabiah. In 1998, Ramat Gan took the trophy for the first time and has featured prominently ever since with its women bowlers setting the pace for the rest of the competition.
Haifa won two of its three games when triples team Jacquie Lieberthal, Galina Fishman and Tova Liebman Kiryat Ono's Maya Van Creveld, Miriam Cohen and Ayana Steinfeld 21-4.
Kiryat Ono, however, evened the morning session when Ruthie Gilor with Esti Yogev had an excellent 16-12 win against Miriam Pappenheimer and Irit Grenchel. In the singles, Pappenheimer led Gilor throughout the match and notched a 21-14 win.
The third interclub clash of the day was between Ra'anana and Savyon, with both teams winning twice.
The Ra'anana pairing of internationals Arlene Rubin and Isobel Myers were back in top form beating Chaya Prager and Gina Eting 19-12, after seven-all peels at the 10th end. However, Savyon evened the morning session when its triples side of Yael Bar-Ner, Juliette Birnhack and Tova Mlockier handily defeated Pesel Gelman, Hadassah Fisher and Shirley Kantor 21-8.
The latter threesome along with Helen Gordon also lost 21-12 to the same Savyon trio with Naomi Shalev filling in at lead.
Carmel Scop salvaged some pride for Ra'anana when she beat Prager 21-17 in a close 27-head match. The game was at 13-all at the 19th end, and Scop started the last end ahead 19-17 and finished with a two-count for a 21-17 win.
Ramat Hasharon did not play in the first round since it received a bye.
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