YESTERDAY Hampshire and England – tomorrow Britain and the world?
That is the double incentive for Tom Bishop in what promises to be an exciting year for Atherley’s national singles champion.
First on the agenda is representing his country at the British Isles Championships in Dublin during June while in November he goes for global glory at Christchurch, New Zealand, where he will be competing for the World Champion of Champions crown.
“It will be an amazing experience going to both tournaments,” said the 21-year-old university student who will travel Down Under with friend Malcolm De Sousa, the reigning Southampton Open champion who will be flying the flag for Jersey.
Though he has major dates in 2013 – let alone England junior and, hopefully, senior trials – bowls has been put on the backburner by Bishop since his brilliant triumph in the Jolliman-sponsored Bowls England event at Worthing in August.
His placement year with Aston University in Birmingham means he is a working man from Monday to Friday in the university’s estates department with a view to completing his degree course in ‘project management, construction related’ in the summer of 2014.
What with socialising in his spare time plus occasional weekend visits to his family in Southampton and the fact that it is a 45-minute journey to the City of Birmingham Bowls Club means there are not enough hours in the day to cram everything in – let alone play bowls regularly enough to keep his game up to the highest standards.
In 2012 he was not able to play anywhere near as much as he would have liked yet he still carried off the national title after going to Sussex as Hampshire champion.
However, he knows he will have to devote more time on the green in the new year – with an emphasis on the indoor game for the autumn because although the world tournament is played outdoors, the greens at the Burnside club in Christchurch are lightning fast.
“England doesn’t have a good record in the British Isles singles in recent years, so I don’t have much to live up to! But the standard is bound to be high. I know I am in the semi-finals because Malcolm (De Sousa) has to play the only preliminary round tie – and if he wins, we’ll play each other.
“In New Zealand I’ll be playing 12 or 13 matches inside four days in the qualifying group. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself but playing three games or so a day, I don’t know how I am going to adapt.
“But I do know that I will turn up every day trying to win every game.”
It will be his first visit to that part of the world for the South African-born player. Bowls England have offered to pay £1,500 towards his expenses and Bowls Hampshire might contribute as well.