“If people want competitions like this to continue then they have to continue to support it.”
The Australian Darts Open wrapped up two weeks of events across Murray River Council as some of the best players in the world fought it out with Oceania’s finest in the number one Darts Australia competition of the year.
Kelvin James, Chairman of Darts Australia, was delighted with the event.
“It was absolutely brilliant. I believe this is the best tournament of its type anywhere in the world,” he said.
Ex-World Champions lined up against state representatives and qualifiers from across Australia plus the highest calibre player from New Zealand.
“The quality of paler was sensational. On the basis of what we saw from our local players we are heading for a very successful World Cup.
“I am really pleased with how our players equipped themselves. Raymond Smith threw above 90 but took on Andy Baetens who was throwing at another level on the Saturday.”
WDF world number one, Belgian Andy Baetens took the men’s title home with a 10-2 win in the final over former World Champion Neil Duff. In the semi finals Baetens had defeated Smith whilst Duff eliminated Jonny Tata. Tata and the man he defeated in the previous round, Haupai Puha, demonstrating how strong New Zealand darts is at the moment, with Desi Mercer making the semi-finals of the women’s competition.
The other men’s group winners but losing semi-finalists, were all from Australia, Peter Machin and Danny Porter from South Australia and Ronald Nakata, who travelled all the way down from his home in Port Hedland to try and qualify and made it through to the quarters but fell to Baetens.
Lisa Ashton continued the English dominance of the event, regaining a title she dropped to Beau Greaves last year. She defeated WDF world number four Aileen De Graaf in the final, 8-4. Jo Hadley joined Mercer as the other semi-finalists.
For James the international players helped show local players the level their game needs to go to.
“It is up to the women to understand from the Open the level they need to raise their game to. To me every one of the domestic players equipped themselves as best they could in the tournament.
“It is good for them to develop their game to the next level and a tournament like this will help them learn so much. I hope they have taken home strategies and ideas on how they will take their game to the next level.”
As for the organisational efforts of so few in very limited framework, James could only be effervescent in his praise.
“The tournament was so well run by a few hardcore people and they should be proud of their efforts.
“The venues were amazing, the stage for the Australian Darts Open at Moama Bowling Club helped to create a great ambience. Moama Bowling Club is a world class entertainment venue. Rich River Golf Club for the national championships and Moama Bowling Club for the Australian Darts Open could not be more welcoming or easy to work with.”
“Congrats to all from My Sport Live and the production crew who created an excellent online product backed up by Deb and Judy doing the coverage online. We punched so far above our weight with such limited resources, I think we embarrassed other dart coverage from around the world.”
The success of the last two weeks demonstrates Darts Australia commitment to not just the elite players but the range of players participating in darts across the county with accessibility for players of differing levels across the various competitions.
James wants to deliver a message off the back of the success of the past week and the Australian Darts Open.
“One message I would like to get out there is as with everything is if people want competitions like this to continue then they have to continue to support it by coming along and being a part of it, or even just watching.
“The statistics on viewership and engagement are amazing but we need people to be a part of the competition and support the players as the enter the stage each year to keep sending the message that the Australian Darts Open is what it has demonstrated again this year what it is, the elite darting sporting event in Australia for women and men.”