Mixed doubles fireworks

On Monday the mixed doubles played out to determine the two finalists.

Michael and Janine Cassar qualified for the quarter finals after surviving a scare against Tony Brown and Andrea Hendley in the round of 16. The Cassars failed to hold throw in the opening leg before Brown (with a 140 visits) and Hendley (with a second visit of 118) stormed through the second leg to move one away from the quarter finals. A 15-dart leg highlighted by a 146 check out from Michael Cassar following on from a ton visit from Janine helped them stay in the match and they then broke the throw of their opponents with consistent darts. The final leg was full of nerves with Janine Cassar starting the most confidently, securing a 140 visit. Both the men missed shots at the bull for the match before both sides failed to clean up the 25 on their next visit. With last dart in hand Michael Cassar checked out to get his team into the last eight. In that round they faced off against Ky Smith and Jackie Marks and the score would again finish 3-2 but this time it would be a very different route for the Cassars. They broke their opponents throw before winning their own throw in 19 darts to move with one leg of the match. Smith and Marks then held throw to put some pressure on the fourth leg. The Cassar’s led comfortably throughout the middle of the fourth leg but a 100 from Marks and a 135 from Smith left them needing 115. The next six darts from the Cassars did not close out the match and with an 83 visit from Marks Smith was able to secure the 32 required to take the match into a deciding leg. Smith had the throw but it was a nervous affair from both teams with the Cassars struggling to check out twenty and their opponents only gradually getting down to a check out until Smith threw 95 to leave 88. With two busted visits it looked like the Cassars had thrown the match away but Marks and then Smith were unable to check out 88 and 48 respectively and finally Michael Cassar collected the 20 on his fifth visit to the oche to move his pair through to the final four.

In that final four they would take on Laurie Loch and Maureen Homer who survived their own tight quarter final against Brody Klinge and Kate Gifford. The Queenslanders opened the match with a 19-dart break of throw with visits of 125 and 129 from Loch setting the team on solid foundations. Klinge and Gifford responded with Gifford throwing a leg high 101 and Klinge left to clean up 21 after Loch was unable to get to a check out dart chasing 140 to hold throw. The Victorians then held throw comfortably to move into a good match position at 2-1. Against the throw Klinge managed to leave just seven when chasing a 122 check out but their opponents were good enough to overcome this momentum shift and two visits later it was two legs all. The last leg saw Kling start with a ton visit but on what would be his last visit to the oche he missed two darts at double eight for the match. Loch then took to the oche and checked out 72 to move into the semi-final against the Cassars.

That semi final saw Loch and Homer break their opponents throw in the opening leg once more. The Cassars then returned serve after Loch was unable to check out 31. With his side’s 19th dart of the leg Cassar drew the match level at one leg all. The Cassars then comfortably held throw, although it took 26 darts to do so. Loch and Homer then held throw. Loch left 32 after a visit of 137 at the end of the leg before Michael Cassar almost left Homer stranded as he left eight chasing a 108 check out (Janine having also thrown a ton on her last visit to give her playing partner the opportunity.) Homer stepped up and two darts later had tied things up once more. The Cassar’s then threw a 19-dart leg to hold throw, heaping pressure on the Loch and Homer throw. Both teams upped their games in this leg, Loch opening with a 140, Michael Cassar responding with 136, Homer then collected 81 before Janine Cassar put her team slightly ahead with a visit of 100. At the end of the leg Homer was unable to check out 52 and Janine Cassar stepped up to put away the match, collecting the required 33 with her last dart in hand, the 18th of her team’s efforts in the leg.

The other half of the draw had seen more one-sided affairs. Having seen off Howard Jones and Natalie Carter 3-0 in the round of 16 Rob Modra and Melina Van den Kieboom drew Brayden Sperling and Hayley Davis in the quarter finals. Modra checked out 77 in the first leg to hold throw after Davis left just 20 trying to check out 111. Against the throw Van den Kieboom scored 97, 133 and checked out 36 to move her team two legs in front. On throw Modra opened with 137 but after that it may not have been as spectacular as the previous leg but Modra and Van den Kieboom got the job done to win 3-0. They would face the formidable team of Brandon Weening and Jo Hadley in the semi finals after the Victorian duo ended the challenge of Seini Vakanofiti and Brendan Masters.

Weening and Hadley opened the match by comfortably holding throw, Weening even leaving just eight when trying to check out 140 before cleaning up on his next visit. In the next leg Masters left tops trying to check out 82 but Vakanofiti never got a dart at it as Weening stepped up and checked out 52 on the back of Hadley’s previous 140 visit. The final leg went the way of the Victorians comfortably although it took 27 darts for them to secure the semi-final position.

That semi final saw the Victorian pair break the Queenslanders with an 18-dart leg, Jo Hadley securing the check out with the opposition requiring just a further 16 for the hold of throw. Weening and Hadley then held throw in the same number of darts but both sides secured consistently strong visits to make a good battle out of the leg. Modra and Van den Kieboom then held throw after Weening left 18 chasing 36 for a third successive leg. It was to be a turning point in the match as they then took a break of throw after Hadley left eight trying to check out 30 and Van den Kieboom secured the twenty she required with the 17th dart of the leg to tie things up at 2-2. Hadley had another chance for a check out in the next leg but left 20 chasing 74 and Modra stepped up to check out 66 and move his side one leg away from the win. The Victorians were not to go down without a fight though and in 19 darts they had tied the match score up again once more, this time at three all. On throw Modra opened with a 140 and he blew the leg wide open two visits later with a maximum leaving Van den Kieboom to clean up the 38 left on her next visit to secure the leg, the match, and a position in the Final for the Queenslanders against another Victorian pair in the form of Michael and Janine Cassar.

The Cassar’s were delighted with their unique combination. Janine commented on this;

“I don’t think there are any other mother son combinations actually. We know each other really well and he’s not going to yell at me and I’m not going to yell at him, and we are just so supportive so I think it’s a real plus.”

Michael was generally pleased with the progress through the day: “I think we got off to a bit of a slow start, but then when I was a bit down she was up and vice versa, so it is something good to build on for the week and I’m really looking forward to it.”

And he was looking forward to Friday

“We both know our opponents really well so I think it will be a fair but hard game and we’re both pretty keen to go so it will be good!”

Modra was just as excited; “I’ve been playing for about 10 years in the Australian Championships and it’s very exciting – I’ve never played in a Mixed Final before and it’s a box I have always wanted to tick.

“I’m very confident. If you’re not confident it can hurt you, so I’ll be ready to go and looking forward to it.”

As for his playing partner, Van den Kieboom was just as confident;

“I actually have a soft spot for the Mixed Doubles – I won it as a junior in 1995 so when Rob Modra said to me before we played it’s one of the only events that he hasn’t won Iwas excited for him as well. Hopefully on Friday we can add that to his list. I’m 100% confident.”