CAROLINE Brown yesterday became the first female Scot to win a World Cup Singles title as she triumphed in Australia.
Her success came three weeks after she was named in Scotland’s five-strong women’s team for the Commonwealth Games and strengthened her case for the singles berth at Kelvingrove when the Games begin in July.
Brown, from the Bellshill & Mossend club, emerged from the tougher of the two sections in her qualifying pool in second place behind group winner Carmen Anderson of the Norfolk Islands, who lost 3-1 in a tie-break to Guernsey’s Alison Merrien in the semi-finals.
In yesterday’s final at the Warilla Club, Brown, a 33-year-old NHS medical secretary and part of the reigning world fours champions from Adelaide in 2012, overcame the strong challenge of Merrien, who won the title in 2008 and again in 2012. By beating her 7-7, 12-2, Brown became the 11th recipient of the World Cup Singles title.
She said: “I always knew my match against Alison was going to be tough. She’s won nearly everything there is to win and I knew it’s wouldn’t be easy and that I would need to be at my best.”
Brown made the early running, stretching out to a 5-3 lead after four ends and maintaining that three-shot gap at 7-4 with two ends left. However, Merrien is renowned for her “never say die” attitude and kept herself in the first set with two incredible conversion shots.
A double on the fifth and then a similar spectacular double on the penultimate end, followed by a single saw the set shared at 7-7.
In the second, Brown dug deeper and led 4-1, but with Merrien holding shot. This time, though, it was the Scots’ turn to convert the head, taking out the holding shot and counting a double to edge nearer to the title at 6-1 with five ends left.
A further double followed and, while Merrien replied with a single, there were no hiccups this time as Brown roared home with a single and treble to put the result beyond any doubt with an end to spare.
“It’s been a tough but very worthwhile event,” added Brown. “The draw looked a bit daunting but it’s a great boost when you are in a tournament as big as this and you beat some of the best players, particularly in my group section. I felt I caught the carpet really well and was delighted that I kept my form up right through the week.”
Later a delighted Scotland national head coach David Gourlay said: “I think this win more than justifies her selection for the Commonwealth team. She was playing the best players that the Southern Hemisphere had to offer in this event, there was no one missing. World, Commonwealth and national champions, she met them all.
“In a single day, she beat Kiwi Jo Edwards, who has won this title four times in the last five years, Karen Murphy from Australia, who is the reigning world singles and world champion of champions title holder, and won her semi-final against back-to-back singles Commonwealth gold medallist Siti Zalina Ahmad, from Malaysia.
“That’s quite a haul of scalps and she won these games in straight sets.
“Most of the other players who were competing here will be representing their respective countries at the Games in Glasgow, so this was definitely a confidence-boosting success for Caroline.”
Gourlay anticipates that the playing line up for the men’s and women’s Scottish team will be revealed in early June.
There will be no immediate respite for Brown as she heads to Spain next Wednesday with the rest of the Scottish team as part of the continuing training process for July’s Commonwealth Games.
Former Ireland international Jeremy Henry further strengthened his grip on the men’s World Cup title, becoming the first three-times winner of the crown with a strong performance on his home carpet against Victoria’s Tony Wood. Henry only dropped two ends in the first set to win 7-2 and, trailing 7-4 with two ends to play in the second, scored a single, lengthened the jack and then rolled in three shots to seal the title 8-7.