Ruthie Gilor won an unprecedented sixth women's title at the finals of the annual national singles championships this weekend at the Ra'anana bowls club. The men's contest heralded a new champion when Ramat Gan's Yair Lieberthal beat Ra'anana's prominent International Raymond Sher.

It was once again Israel's two top international bowlers - Kiryat Ono's Gilor and Ramat Gan's Tami Kamzel - facing off against each other for this year's women's title. Gilor won for a sixth time, beating the previous record of five wins held by the late Miriam Yankelowitz in the '70s and '80s.

The women's final began with early indications that it would be keenly contested, with Gilor leading 8-6 after eight ends. But Gilor then followed with a full-house four count, which was remarkably followed with Kamzel ceding a second four, followed by a three and a two - a total of 13 shots in four successive ends, giving Gilor an unexpected 21-6 win. For Gilor, it was a reversal of last year's final in which she came in second to Kamzel.

In the semifinals, Gilor had beaten Haifa's Irit Grencel 21-12, while Kamzel had won 21-9 against her teammate Rki Ovadia. All four players incidentally are on the five-up squad headed to Cyprus next month for the biennial Atlantic Competition.

The men's event marked something of a comeback for Lieberthal, although he had had already shown hints of a return when he won the President's singles in 2009. Some 21 years ago, the then-17 year old Lieberthal became Israel's youngest Master bowler, following through to top International level as a member of Israel's world team in 2000. His return to the game followed an extended absence during his army service and studies.

Lieberthal's high-level performances could well be attributed to the example set by his more than 70-year-old mother Jacquie, a past Master bowler, and his continued competitiveness among Israel's top-ranked players.

Lieberthal's final against Sher featured high-level bowling by both players, and with the lead continually changing, the final result was always in question. After 21 ends, the score was even at 17-all, but the younger challenger stood firm against his resilient opponent to win three of the remaining four ends for a well-deserved 21-18 win.

In his previous quarterfinal, Lieberthal had an excellent 21-18 win against International bowler Zvika Hadar after trailing 15-18. In his semifinal, he beat Haifa's high-ranked player Noam Yehudai 21-16. Sher had made it to the final after a fighting comeback against Ramat Gan's International George Kaminsky, rallying from 18-10 down for a 21-18 win.

Bowlers pursue titles abroad

After the prize-giving, farewells were extended to Israelis participating in next month’s Atlantic Competition in Cyprus and also the European Championships in Portugal.

The Atlantic delegation consists of Zvika Hadar, Colin Silberstein, Alan Saitowitz, Yair Bekier and Roy Ben-Ari. The women’s squad consists of Ruthie Gilor, Tami Kamzel, Irit Grencel, Yael Bar-Ner and Rki Ovadia.

Hadar and Dani Slodovnik will represent the men at the European Championships, while Gilor and Kamzel will make up the women’s team