World number two Alison Merrien is a confirmed starter for next month’s $120,000 Australian Open at the Shepparton Park and Mooroopna bowls clubs.
Having claimed three of the game’s biggest titles in recent years, the Jersey superstar eagerly accepted a wildcard into the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest and most lucrative tournament and has been immediately installed as one of the hot favourites to lift the coveted title.
Joining Merrien at the Australian Open will be her husband, Ian, ranked 12 in the world in his own right, as momentum continues to build ahead of the opening day of the completion on February 14.
No stranger to Australian conditions, Alison claimed the biggest win of her career in Warilla in 2008 when she prevailed at the World Cup in stunning fashion, clinching the title with back-to-back wins against international heavyweights Karen Murphy (world number five) and Val Smith (world number one).
Standing in her way next month, however, is a red-hot field that includes defending champion Kelsey Cottrell, the world number three, Scottish superstar and last year’s finalist, Kay Moran, as well as the entire English and Australian Commonwealth Games squads.
“I feel very privileged to be included in such a prestigious event,” Merrien said upon acceptance into the main draw.
“I am looking forward to playing among some of the best bowlers in Australia and international players."
Ian echoed his wife’s comments, confirming the marquee event will play a key role in their preparations for Delhi, which if selected, will be his fourth Commonwealth Games.
“The Australian Open is the beginning of our trip Down Under,” Ian said.
“We have taken three months off work to play more regular high level competition as a build up to Delhi.”
A multi-discipline tournament, the Australian Open features singles, pairs and triples for both men and women, with the competition running from February 14 to 20.
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse