Holland rallies for women's title

Robin
Robin Short
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CURLING/Tylenol Players' Women's Championship

Amber Holland of Regina, Sask. outlasted Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont. 6-4 to win the Tylenol Players' Championship women's curling final Saturday afternoon at Mile One Centre.

It was a disappointing matchup from a fan's perspective, with two relatively unknown teams on the women's circuit playing for the $25,000 first-place prize money, 40 Canadian Team Ranking System points and a berth in the Canadian Olympic Pre-Trials.

Skip Amber Holland of Regina, Sask. throws a final stone to knock out Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont. 6-4 to win the Tylenol Players' Championship women's curling final Saturday afternoon at Mile One Centre. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Amber Holland of Regina, Sask. outlasted Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont. 6-4 to win the Tylenol Players' Championship women's curling final Saturday afternoon at Mile One Centre.

It was a disappointing matchup from a fan's perspective, with two relatively unknown teams on the women's circuit playing for the $25,000 first-place prize money, 40 Canadian Team Ranking System points and a berth in the Canadian Olympic Pre-Trials.

Reigning Canadian and world champ Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg finished 2-3. Kelly Scott from B.C., a two-time Scotties and world champion, was 1-3, as was Shannon Kleibrink of Alberta, who won the silver medal at the Torino Olympics.

McCarville entered the game ranked 12th on the CTRS. Holland was ranked 18th.

Nonetheless, Holland wasn't about to concede her first career Grand Slam title could be dubbed an upset.

"It's the best 16 teams and there's a lot of sheer talent here, but we played all these teams and it comes down to what you do at this event, and we put it together," she said.

"In other people's eyes, maybe yes, but in ours, no."

It was a sloppily-played game through the first half, with both teams missing several opportunities.

Trailing 3-2 after four ends, Holland picked up one in the fifth and took the lead for good in the sixth with a steal of one.

It could have been much worse for McCarville, who was facing three Holland stones with her final shot in six. But a nice tap-back by the Ontario skip kept the damage to a minimum.

In the eighth and final end and McCarville's stone counting, Holland made a double takeout to squeeze out the win.

"We did not play as well the first half of the game as we wanted," Holland said.

"We missed a lot of opportunities, didn't position rocks where we wanted.

"But at the end of the day, in the sixth, seventh and eighth ends, we hardly missed shots and those are the ones that matter sometimes."

Holland won the 1992 Canadian junior championship but hasn't been heard from since. She did curl in the 2001 Olympic Trials and has curled in several Saskatchewan Scotties playdowns.

She has attended the nationals as an alternate, but hopes to bring her youthful team - put together three years ago - to the Scotties.

"I've been there, done that but some of my players haven't," she said. "When you end up winning an event of this meaning, it makes you realize - not that you don't think you're good - but that you can do it.

"It strengthens your confidence to say that, 'Yeah, we belong and we are part of this.' Even though you know it, it just reinforces it."

The game was played before a slight crowd of less than 1,000 at Mile One even though organizers had boasted prior to the Players playoffs the sale of tickets for the Saturday and Sunday had been brisk.

In semifinal play earlier Saturday, Holland defeated Montreal's Eve Belisle 6-4, while McCarville trimmed Cheryl Bernard of Calgary 7-2.

rshort@The Telegram.com




FINAL STANDINGS

Amber Holland (Sask.) 6-2
Krista McCarville (Ontario) 5-3
Eve Belisle (Quebec) 4-2
Cheryl Bernard (Alberta) 4-2
Michelle Englot (Sask.) 3-1
Sherry Anderson (Sask.) 3-1
Cathy King (Alberta) 3-2
Sherry Middaugh (Ontario) 3-3
Jennifer Jones (Manitoba) 2-3
Stefanie Lawton (Sask.) 2-3
Heather Rankin (Alberta) 2-3
Kelly Scott (B.C.) 1-3
Shannon Kleibrink (Alberta) 1-3
Kristie Moore (Alberta) 1-3
Heather Strong (NL) 0-3
Julie Reddick (Ontario) 0-3

Organizations: Canadian Team Ranking System, Olympic Trials

Geographic location: Sask., Alberta, Ontario Regina Thunder Bay Winnipeg Montreal Quebec Manitoba

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