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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The darts were flying at the Astra Lounge

Trenton – Bob Jones always wanted to bring a large-scale dart tournament to the Quinte area.

Jones didn't live to see that happen but his daughter, Kim Whaley-Hilts, and her husband, Wally Hilts, have made his dream come true.

The 2009 Bob Jones Memorial Dart Tournament will be world-ranked, allowing players from across the globe to compete in Trenton for world ranking points.

“We started the tournament because Kim’s dad and mom travelled all over playing in tournaments, but there was never anything held here,” Hilts said.

“My dad always wanted to have a big local tournament,” Whaley-Hilts added.

The 13th annual nationally ranked Bob Jones Tournament was held Oct. 24-26 at the Junior Ranks Astra Lounge at CFB Trenton, drawing more than 200 dart players from across North America.

“We have worked for 13 years to get the tournament to where it is,” Hilts said. “Every year we add 10 per cent more and 10 per cent more players.”

Chris Scott of Toronto won the men’s single tournament with Ross Snook of Ottawa as the runner up. Callie West from Syracuse, NY won the women’s singles followed by Jessica Parker of Ottawa.

Throughout the weekend, seven tournaments were held with in excess of $13,000 being paid out to the winners.

“The money is good and so is the competition,” said Jerry Hall, who travelled from Montreal to compete.

Clint Clarkson of Calgary took a roundabout way to make it to the tournament.

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“We flew to Regina to play singles Saturday morning. Then we flew to Edmonton and caught an overnight flight to Toronto,” Clarkson said. “We drove to Trenton this morning to make the Sunday morning competition.”

However, the lengthy travel distance was worth the effort.

“This is one of the best tournaments in the country,” Clarkson said.

The Trenton tournament is different , he said, because of the quick play. Most doubles tournaments are best-of-five while the Bob Jones Memorial is the best-of- three. The singles tournament is a straight knockout.

“Some players prefer it, some don’t,” Clarkson said. “It’s great if you get a couple of easy draws in the first round, but if you get tough draws its not as preferable.”

Roxanne VanTessel travelled 12 hours from Timmins to “chase ranking points.

“Right now I’m number two in Canada, so I need the points to get that one spot,” VanTessel said. “The top players in Canada are coming out. It’s great competition.”

Hilts and Whaley-Hilts also competed in the tournament. Whaley-Hilts is currently ranked 18 in the world and has been ranked first nationally. In July she won her first world championship in Trinidad.

Whaley-Hilts believes having the local tournament run by dart players contributes to the event's success.

“We are dart players so we know what dart players want,” Whaley-Hilts said.

“Kim and I basically meet and greet every person that comes into the building and thank them for coming,” Hilts added.

In between competitions, the Bayside couple ensures the tournament is entertaining for the players.

“When you are at the toe line it is serious,” Whaley-Hilts said, “When you are off the toe line you’ve got to have some fun.” (source link...)
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