Samantha Ritchie is punching well above her weight and has taken a sport considered to be the playground of older generations by storm.
Taking to lawn bowls like an old hat, she’s starting to produce some brilliance on the greens.
Samantha has been taking on ladies and gentleman who have been playing lawn bowls longer than she’s been alive, however the 12-year-old is coming out on top of her older peers.
Enjoying success in the Wagga and District mixed pairs with fellow Rules Club bowler Apollo Birch last month, unusually Samantha was the skipper of the team.
Bringing the team home with some crucial shots in the semi-final, Birch described her play as well beyond her years.
“For a 12-year-old she plays like a 60-year-old,” Birch said.
“She played some of the best bowls you'd see on the extra end against the defending champions.”
Although the semi-final was a thriller, the pair enjoyed a much more comfortable 23-13 win in the final at Ganmain last weekend.
Samantha picked up a lawn bowl for the first time 18 months ago but it’s only been in the last six months she’s really taken to the sport.
After winning the club pairs with Birch they stepped up to the next level with similar success.
“It’s been good,” Samantha said.
“We’ve only done the club pairs and district pairs.”
The year 7 Kooringal High student has also excelled taking on those closer in age.
Representing Riverina at the NSW CHS championships last month at Warilla in both singles and pairs, she put herself in the mix for further representative honours.
Her brother Cameron, 14, was also involved in the tournament and hitting the greens has been a family affair for the Ritchies.
Father Aaron took up the sport looking another sporting outlet after retiring from football and now both kids and his wife Jacqui play.
“Dad started playing and she picked up dad’s bowls and realised she could use them and was good with them,” Jacqui said.
“He started then we all decided to pick it up.”
Although there’s no next level for Birch and Samantha to compete out, they are considering playing in the zone mixed pairs qualifiers for the state titles at West Wyalong next month.
Most of Samantha’s competitors are old enough to be her grandmother but she gets plenty of support as she continues to develop her game.
“It’s not a sport lots of people play but I know some of them, not all of them, but it’s fun against them,” Samantha.
“Some of them give me tips and stuff like that.”
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