New Year Ushers in the Veterans and the Novices

The local lawn bowls calendar for the year tapered off, as usual, with the annual competitions for novices and veterans.

The local lawn bowls calendar for the year tapered off, as usual, with the annual competitions for novices and veterans.

The two competitions serve as pointers - at one end of the scale to new players, some in their earlier years, among others more senior, who have decided to seek active sporting pleasure in newly acquired leisure time.

In the Novices competition, there are no age limitations whatsoever, with competitors ranging from teenagers through new players in their eighties. The rules in the competition, however, require a "novice" to have played for less than three years.

At the other end of the scale, there is the "veteran" classification in which competitors must be at least 65 years old. The field here sees steady yearly additions, as newly-qualified players enter the ranks replacing those who eventually decide to call it a day.

Among the field here, some players of bygone years registered creditable achievements and still show glimpses of their skills of the past. None more so than Eugene Freund, who in last Saturday's round, simply ignored his 92 years, to beat Joe Goldberg, an opponent some 20 years younger, and a former international.

Freund, a regular player at Ramat Gan, must surely be setting an example to the younger generation of newcomers to the Veterans' arena.

In the quarterfinal stages (from the orginal field of 30 players), to be contested at the weekend, Freund will be up against Arele Cohen, the 1998 finalist, in what should be another close contest, while in another quarterfinal game, Netanya's Selwyn Arenson, who was last year's runner-up, meets his club mate, Chinky Whiteman.

Ivan Kantor, a newcomer to the clan, had a good first round win to eliminate the winner in the past two years, Antonio Rachminov, and now faces Netanya's Moshe Shwartzberg.

Another Netanya pairing will see Hilli Linde up against John Goldberg, each of them previous winners of the title in 1999 and 1998 respectively.

Accompanying the veteran men this year are nine female bowlers. A proposal has been submitted to reduce the age limit here to 60, which should be an encouragement for others to follow. In the quarterfinals, Helen Gordon plays Zoe Slomowitz, Rita Schiff plays Dolores Linde, Ruth Gorali plays Celia Kahn and Monica Menashe meets Carol Rafic.

Talented newcomers

The novices competitions are of special significance as they give an indication of the number of new bowlers taking up the game for the first time, alongside those playing either in their second or third year.

Often, talented newcomers are spotted, such as Danny Slodownik, who two years ago won the title at his first attempt and in that same year took the singles crown at his Ramat Gan club against experienced bowlers with many national honors.

Similarly, in the women's section Haifa's Irit Grenchel took the novices singles title at her first attempt two years ago, and from there went through to be runner-up in the Masters competition, and was chosen also in Israel's last Maccabiah team.

In this year's men's 30-strong field, preliminary games have been played with the last 16 to play off at the weekend, while in the women's section the quarterfinal stage has been reached from among the original 12 entries.

Of particular note is that from the combined total of 42