Hawke's Bay tenpin bowler John Dickinson had plenty to toast when the province's open tournament ended in Hastings on Sunday.

The 43-year-old orchardist, who is in his second year back in the sport after a spell, won the men's open doubles title with fellow Hastings player Alex Zurcher and also recorded the best high game handicap score of 285. In addition to the doubles Dickinson also played in the mixed doubles, singles and handicap masters events at the 25th annual Epplett & Co Accountants Ltd sponsored event which attracted more than 140 entries from both sides of the Tasman Sea.

"My thumb wasn't liking it too much when I turned up to work this morning but it was worth it. Alex and I are in our second year of doubles together and that's our first title," Dickinson explained.

"Consistency was the key to our success. I had a brilliant first game and continued on with similar form and Alex was pretty consistent too."


Dickinson, who has played tenpin bowling for 10 years, and Zurcher finished 52 points ahead of fellow Hastings players Terry Field and Morgan Cook who pipped another Hastings combo of Ian Baldwin and Michael Donovan by one point.

"We'll be back for the open again next year and we'll aim to do some out-of-town tournaments before then too," Dickinson added.

Long-time sponsor of the open and a veteran of 20 years in the code, Preston Epplett, said while Dickinson, who top scored with 720 during the men's doubles series, deserved plenty of kudos several other Hawke's Bay players also had a decent chunk of the limelight. Belinda Botherway and Margaret Bambry did well to win the women's doubles title.

First-season bowler Jeremy Berendsen won the all events handicap title by 35 points from long-serving New Zealand representative Pete Richardson of Auckland. Berendsen also finished third in the men's masters handicap event, 29 points behind the winner, fellow Hastings player Brendan Potgieter, and 19 points behind runner-up Darren Russell of Australia.

Hawke's Bay's Rebekah Baxter, a New Zealand Youth squad member, produced the best high game scratch score of 268.

As expected New Zealand's No 2 woman Suzanne Howell of Auckland was a busy recipient at the prizegiving. She won the women's all events scratch title by 175 points over Baxter.
Howell also won the women's masters scratch title and the champion of champions scratch title.

In addition Howell and fellow Aucklander Sammy Langdon were second equal in the women's doubles with the Hastings pair of Alanna Pittar and Hannah Harrison-Cook, second in the mixed doubles with Hamish McGrigor of Hastings to Russell and Helen Green of Hastings and she was a member of the second best women's team.

Howell pipped Richardson for the champion of champions scratch title. A tournament manager for Tenpin New Zealand, Richardson, 50, has been playing for 32 years and earlier this year became the first bowler to represent New Zealand at youth, adult and senior levels.


In September Richardson was a member of the New Zealand seniors team which finished 14th out of 41 countries at the world seniors champs in Las Vegas. In the individual section of the champs, Richardson finished 65th in a 160-strong field.

Richardson first represented New Zealand in 1991 at youth level at the Asian zone champs in Guam. The following year he was in the New Zealand adult team at the Asian zone champs in Perth.

In 1995 Richardson played at the world championships in Reno, a feat he repeated in Malaysia in 2003. He also competed at two Australian state championships in 2008 and 2016.

The national youth champion in 1990, Richardson, was the national adult champion in 1995 and 2008. Earlier this year he finished second at his first senior nationals and he has represented Waitakere at the national inter-provincial tournament since 1996.

With top quality players like Richardson and Howell in action Epplett and fellow open organisers were hoping the first 300, the maximum score in the code, would be bowled during the weekend. An official 300 hasn't been bowled in the Bay since 1979.

Baxter with her 268 and Richardson with his 265 got the closest. Twenty six 200s were bowled during the first three events of the weekend.