Development tour player Ciaran Teehan continued his superb recent performances, Following some excellent runs on recent Development Tour weekends, it seems that Ciaran was determined to enter the Challenge Tour with a bang!
Teehan averaged in the mid-high nineties in every round. Going to win the event with a 5-2 final victory over Berry Van Peer. Every round was high quality from Ciaran as his standard did not drop from his first round to the last.
Before the final Teehan had despatched Shane McGuirk, Nick Fulwell, Chris Quantock, Andy Jenkins, Jason Askew, Sean Griffiths and Mike Whitehead, none managed to threaten the youngster or claim more than three legs.
Van Peer enjoyed an excellent run to the final and many will be pleased to see him return to something like his best form. Lisa Ashton was another player noted as being in good shape for event 17 of this year. Although Van Peer put an end to her run it was a tight 5-3 win. Her wins over Wesley Plaisier and Mark Walsh indicate a player in good shape.
Event 18 today and tomorrow’s 19 & 20 promise much more to look forward to.
The PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour is underway again this weekend. Saturday featured Event Five and Event Six in Wigan. Darren Beveridge finally defeated Callan Rydz after a superb final. Beveridge was 3-1 up when Rydz hit a supreme scoring spell. Winning three of the next four legs, to level at 4-4 Rydz had upped his average to over 105. Each player hit multiple 180’s as they attempted to claim the title. Darren was not for fading and ensured a 5-4 win with a 14 dart leg on his own throw.
The year’s second Challenge Tour weekend saw four £10,000 tournaments played for PDPA Associate Members across Saturday and Sunday.
The Qtr Final Stage witnessed Callan Rydz, Berry Van Peer, Dennis Nilsson and Andy Jenkins all still trying to join Darren Beveridge and Andy Chalmers in the Semi-Final line-up.
Rydz, Beveridge, Barry Lynn and Kyle McKinstry, all recorded 100+ averages in another high-quality day’s play. Former major finalists Wez Newton & Mark Walsh had decent starts before falling in the middle rounds.
Event 6 – Summary.
Event 6 will commenced almost immediately and proved a triumph for Scotland’s Cameron Menzies. The Unicorn player seemed to do just enough in the early stages, before stepping up his game in the later rounds. HIs last four opponents were all experienced and in-form players. Menzies averaged over 90 in all of them and did not drop more than two legs in the four matches.
Berry Van Peer again performed well to reach the Qtr-Final stages. Andy Jenkins continued his solid form to reach the same stage. Boris Koltsov and Andy Gilding added to their recent accounts, reaching the same stage. Danny Van Trijp enjoyed a fine run also. Francis Carragher demonstrated that his form crosses codes and conditions with a very strong run, also reaching the Qtrs.
Scott Waites showed signs of beginning to adapt to the Challenge Tour during event 6. His 5-0 whitewash of Nathan Rafferty was achieved whilst averaging over 100.
Overall though, Menzies stood out in this event. He has been in very good shape during 2019, without generating many headlines. This may be the event that changes that.
Events 7 & 8 took place on Sunday 12th of May and will be summarised in Talking Points soon.
Two years ago, I wrote an article about how dartitis can be turned into a short-term problem. I had come through the initial stages of not being able to release a dart and was comfortable with realigning my throw in order to take the next step. The good news is that since my previous article, I have not encountered any problem with letting the dart go out of my hand. That’s half the battle won, right? However, I am producing more variations than an Indian spin bowler with the dart either coming out of the front of my hand or the left-hand side, or my elbow dropping so low that it’s halfway towards the oche.
Despite such issues, I’ve continued to compete in pub leagues, Super League and tournaments, although it’s fair to say that any positive performance comes as a surprise. Anyone who has had to cope with dartitis will acknowledge that it’s nigh-on impossible to not expect your throwing action to break down at any moment, but when the good moments come, they are heightened with sheer relief. First and foremost, you are proving a point to yourself and showing that you are not completely incapable, but there’s also a desire to remind team members or opponents that you can still play, proving that your own persistence is not a waste of everyone’s time.
Over Christmas and into the New Year, I’ve played a lot of competitive darts and for the most part, I’ve been pleased with how I have thrown. In the Super League knockout tournament, I averaged nearly 60 and almost hit a 21-dart leg which included a seven and a 26. Try it – it takes some doing! I also kicked off the 301 league with a 12-dart leg – my third best competitive leg pre and post-dartitis. Nothing completely spectacular but for a dartitis sufferer, it rarely gets better. That’s just the reality of what you’re dealing with, but that’s ok. It’s the reward for your own perseverance.
Then came the acid test – back to Super League darts. Playing Super League is never going to be the be all and end all to me but for anyone with dartitis, there is a certain fear factor. You play the game not expecting to win, but praying to avoid embarrassment. Call that a negative attitude if you will but it’s an involuntary mentality which is part of the package. I got paired against a player who I knew I should be beating but already, the natural reaction is ‘What if I don’t?’
I won the match 3-2 but it doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Neither does the 13.33 per dart average that I recorded. It’s an abysmal average for that platform of darts but I took every single positive and ignored the negatives. I lost the opening leg and hit a 76 checkout under pressure for a 26-dart leg in the second. I won two legs where my opponent had hit a 140 and finished 40 at the first time of asking in the decider. There may have been a 60-dart leg in there – which I lost after going from 35 to leaving nine in three darts, which is quite the skill – but who cares? I won my first ever match at Super League and it broke a mental barrier at the same time.
Ahead of the next game, my shoulder and release were as relaxed as they had been in some time. The fear factor remained, but there was optimism. However, that next game didn’t come, and it didn’t the following week either. The win had been ignored and only the average had been remembered. What was my own significant achievement was effectively deemed worthless by others. That should not be misconstrued to be a personal criticism, but it further highlighted the minefield which comes with dartitis, especially for a pub-standard player who still wants to play and contribute.
From my own personal standpoint, I’m forced into adopting a one-step-forward, two-steps-back mentality. I’m past the stage – the hardest stage – of being demoralised before I even try to throw a dart. I know my best game is in there somewhere and I know that I am capable of producing it. It’s taken patience to get to that stage, and I’m proud of myself for getting to that stage. However, proving things to yourself is only part of the challenge and there will always be concerns – demons to use a more extreme term – about how others perceive you and what they expect of you, especially in a team situation. The days of me being relied upon or expected to win a leg or a match by others feels long gone and it’s a new mindset to have to cope with.
That could be described as an unnecessary over-analysis of a situation that may or may not exist but again, it’s an involuntary reaction which comes with the territory. There’s no longer the possibility of being able to throw at a board – even in the least competitive of environments – and not being aware of how your throw is going, how it’s feeling, doubting whether everything is in sync and who is judging you, if anyone is judging you at all. There’s an over-eagerness to want to perform to the best of your ability and that has to be reduced down to a manageable level.
That’s a transition that Berry van Peer has probably had to make in recent months. Obviously his experience of dartitis was broadcast to millions on a television screen and it should never be underestimated what he achieved in defeating Cameron Menzies in a deciding leg at the Grand Slam of Darts. Berry didn’t get his PDC Tour Card for 2018 but I have absolutely no doubt that it’s a blessing in disguise. It gives him 12 months out of the spotlight and a chance to work on overcoming dartitis in the most effective way he can find without having to put his throw under more scrutiny on the Pro Tour. He can now improve at his own pace. It will work wonders.
What Berry did at the Grand Slam was an inspiration to me, as it would have been to anyone who has struggled with their throw. It put dartitis in the public eye and it helped take away some of the perception that dartitis is down to nerves. It’s not. If anything, it’s building your expectations too high and trying to rush your own progression. Subconsciously, Berry probably got ahead of himself after reaching the PDC World Youth final in 2016 and when the results didn’t come in 2017, he hit a brick wall. I did the same when averaging 67 in the last 32 of the old UK Open pub qualifiers. I was five matches away from the Reebok Stadium, expecting to progress over the next 12 months and it all went downhill from there.
That said, I still know that if everything clicks for me in one given match or competition, I’m still capable of beating most people. I understand that probably won’t happen over a prolonged period of time but I continue to enjoy playing darts with dartitis because I know that one moment is going to come. When I play the UK Open qualifiers in the coming weeks, will I be competitive? Probably not, but I’m prepared to put myself through the process of overcoming mental obstacles in order to get back to where I want to be.
The early stages of dartitis are probably best spent behind closed doors with no pressure and no expectations. There needs to be a certain acceptance that you’re effectively starting from scratch and those previous high averages are not realistic. However, just enjoy the process and do things at your own pace. That first competitive game back probably won’t go to plan but it’s a continuation of the process. Think where Berry van Peer would be if he had accepted the PDC’s offer of pulling out of the Grand Slam before the Menzies match? Instead of fading into the background, he backed himself and produced one of the most memorable darting moments of 2017. If a 21-year-old can do that in front of a thousand people at the Wolverhampton Civic and millions around the world, there’s every chance that it’s possible to get back on track in front of a few people in a pub.
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