Our correspondent of more than 4 decades is seeing the green shoots of recovery in the US darts scene:
As promised, I can bring you the results of all the action down in Charlotte last month.
We started off with the World Masters National Finals, our first Nationals since Vegas last January. From an initial field of 51 men, we got down to a final bracket of 12. This included some familiar names, but also a few new ones.
At the close of play, heading the qualifiers was the familiar name of Phillips, from North Carolina. Only thing is, it wasn’t Robbie, but his younger brother Stephen! This is far and away his best display in a National Finals. One point behind him was the Tennessee pairing of Joe Chaney and Jason Brandon. Joe, you will know, but Jason has long been one of our better players without getting the recognition he deserves. Now his kids are growing up, he can put a bit more time in on the board.
Claiming the final spot was a name you probably didn’t know until my last post – Jules Van Dongen. Following up his victory at the Cherry Bomb International in Florida in June, he now gets his trip to the Masters paid! What is incredible is that until 2020, Jules just played darts at home; he had never entered a tournament. Now, eighteen months later, he has a trip back to his homeland! Dan Naylor is the alternate.
Meanwhile, 30 women were contesting their own playoff for two spots, and they played down to a final bracket of 8. It turned out to be quite a battle, with there being just ONE leg separating first and fourth! Carolyn Mars and Cali West grabbed the spots in Assen, both finishing on 14, one ahead of Marlise Kiel and Jennifer Cocchi. It’s nice to see Cali back on the World stage after some niggling health issues, and the last time Carolyn played in the World Masters was 19 years ago!
While all this was going on, we were having the ADO National Youth Championships, and we send the winners of the boys’ and girls’ events to the World Masters. The last time we held a National Youth Championship was 2019, and the winners were P.J. Stewart and Aaja Jalbert. Two years on, and the winners were P.J. Stewart and Aaja Jalbert! P.J. beat Kaden Anderson, and Aaja got the better of Nichole Graves.
On to the Saturday, and the WDF-ranked Charlotte Open…
In the men’s 501 singles, the finalists were to names you will recognise; Jules Van Dongen and Jason Brandon! As at the Cherry Bomb, it was Jules who pocketed the title. Beaten semi-finalists were Robbie Phillips and Tom Sawyer. There was a familiar name on the women’s 501 trophy too, in the shape of Paula Murphy. Paula edged out Chattanooga’s Heather Howard in the final, with Sandy Hudson and Sandy Haas rounding out the Top 4.
There were a couple of new names taking the cricket titles, with Chicago’s Randy Van Deursen inflicting another final defeat on Jason Brandon, and another Chattanoogan (yeah, they’re everywhere) Michelle Graybeal besting Cali West on the distaff side. Semi-finalists were Kevin Yasenchak, Joe Chaney, Sand Hudson, and Sandy Haas.
There were also WDF-ranked youth singles. In the girls’, it was Aaja Jalbert – again – who claimed victory (over Audrey Crisp), while Ryan Avellino took the boys’ from former National Youth Champ Buster Graves.
A couple of weeks after Charlotte, we had the Music City Classic in Nashville. The men’s 501 went to Larry Butler, who beat Boston’s Bruce Robbins, while Liz Tynan beat out Teresa Quan for the women’s. David Lowe won the men’s cricket from Nick Linberg, and Paula Murphy saw off Stacey Pace in the final of the women’s cricket.
This weekend sees the next stop on the WDF tour, with the Washington Area Open in Virginia, and I will bring news of that later.