Chch teen aims for slice of history
As her peers celebrate the arrival of a new year in a party-like fashion across New Zealand, Christchurch teenager Tayla Bruce is planning her own special celebration.
The 18-year-old Burnside Bowling Club member will today attempt a slice of New Zealand bowls history when she tackles the final of the women's singles at the national championships in Dunedin.
Should she be successful against Wellington's Helen King, Bruce will become the youngest player to win a national championship title in either the men's or women's competition.
It's a hefty ask for an up-and- coming bowler who is only in her sixth year on the greens, but everything about Bruce's career in bowls so far suggests she is up to the challenge.
A New Zealand under-18 representative, Bruce already has a list of achievements but had no hesitation in stating she was excited to be playing in the final of the national singles.
"I love playing singles," she said. "It takes a lot of concentration, and you really need to work hard on keeping yourself in the right mindset.
"So far this week it's all worked out well, I'm thrilled with how I'm playing and just hoping I can put one more performance together."
Described by those who have played alongside her over the past six years as someone who is willing to listen and learn, Bruce is held in high regard by some of the New Zealand's top players and a potential future Black Jack.
A keen watcher as well as player, she was a spectator right throughout the world champion of champion singles at her Burnside club last month, and she said watching some of the best in the world has helped her game.
"I was flipping the scoreboards so I had a front-row seat to a lot of it, and watching some of those players you pick up on little things they do and then try to put them into your game."
The winner of today's final will receive a spot in this year's world champion of champions, which incidentally are again in Christchurch, this time at the Fendalton Bowling Club.
"I'm trying not to think too far ahead of tomorrow morning, but that would be amazing to play in that tournament." Bruce admitted she didn't know a lot about her rival, King, but had seen enough to know she has a real battle on her hands.
"She's a lovely lady, and a really good bowler. I think I have played against her once before in a Victoria Pairs tournament, so it was a bit of light-hearted fun.
"On what she has done this week, and some of the players she has beat, it's going to be a very tough final."
Bruce plans to shift her attention slightly over the next 12 months as she begins studying toward becoming a primary school teacher at Canterbury University.
But before the textbooks come out, there's a national title to win.