THE last few weeks have been exciting ones for Oakley bowlers as they have strived to represent Hampshire in the National Championships to be held in August at Royal Leamington Spa.

The scene was set by Nicole Rogers and Heather Statham who lifted the County Junior Women’s Pairs title and this was followed by Ashley Nethercliffe reaching the Men’s Junior Singles final and by both Rogers and Statham achieved the same feat in the Junior Women’s Singles where they came through to meet each other in the final for the second successive season.

Not to be outdone by the juniors, Ric Newson who in the last two years reached the quarter and semi-finals of the Blue Riband event, the Men’s County Singles, went one better this year as he beat the reigning champion Boscombe Cliff's Chris Daniels to reach the county final and book his place at Leamington.

There he will be joined by Rogers in the Two Wood Singles, and by Rogers, Statham and Alice Lovett in the Triples. These three girls with Lorna Devonish in the Fours event.

Despite suffering an agonising defeat in the county semi-final, this is an event where Hampshire are allowed three qualifiers and Oakley beat Cove in the third place play-offs. .

This ensured Oakley will be represented in a record seven events at the National Championships but that, with an average age of just 18, the fours will be one of the youngest in the history of the Championships.

The Senior Fours of Mary Varndell, Sue Dixon, Angie Rowe and Janie Vickers were county runners-up, but only the champions qualify.

Pictured above: the women’s four from left to right: Heather Statham, Alice Lovett, Lorna Devonish and Nicole Rogers.