Warrnambool bowlers Neil Crisp and Kellie Bowles fell short of reaching the Australian Open.WARRNAMBOOL Bowls Club’s Neil Crisp and Kellie Bowles yesterday fell just short of grand final appearances at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Nanjing Night Net

The duo advanced to the semi-finals of their respective singles divisions at Darebin yesterday afternoon after brilliant performances all week, but neither snared a ticket to the deciders.

For Crisp, the narrow loss marked the end of a stunning run of form on debut at the national event.

The 54-year-old, who plays with the aid of an aluminium bowling arm, was responsible for eliminating some of the biggest names on the Open singles bill.

He outclassed world number five Aron Sherriff in round 16 before toppling world number one and defending champion Leif Selby in the quarter-final.

“It’s been a great experience,” he told The Standard yesterday.

“It’s just a privilege to play against that sort of calibre. I was really happy to get one game in, then I was just happy to score.”

Crisp’s sparkling run came to a halt yesterday when he faced Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mark Casey.

But the humble Warrnambool skipper did not surrender easily.

Crisp did not relinquish the lead in the opening set, sprinting to a 5-0 lead and claiming the first set 7-6.

Casey, of Queensland club Helensvale, fought back to win the second set 7-6 before snatching the tie-break 2-1.

“It was disappointing to get that close,” Crisp said.

“I might never get the opportunity again.”

Meanwhile, Bowles bowed out of the women’s singles event after a similar streak of form.

The state player accounted for world number eight Kelsey Cottrell in round one, followed by Australia A squad members Carla Odgers and Julie Keegan.

Bowles faced Australian vice-captain Lynsey Armitage in the semi-final but lost in straight sets on the showcourt. “It was a really good week up until (yesterday),” she said.

“A little bit of doubt crept in. The television cameras felt very unfamiliar.

“I couldn’t get into the right head space.”

Fellow Warrnambool bowler Brian “Blacky” Lenehan made the final 32 of the men’s singles, while Steve Mitchell and Crisp did not make the finals of the pairs.

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