Players well on target
For darts player Craig Caldwell, being mentored by Phil Taylor is as big as it gets.
The Porirua man won the open singles title at the national champs in Rotorua last month and, because of his semifinal finish in a tournament on the Gold Coast not long after, will go to Britain in December.
There, he and more than 150 other darts players from around the world will play off with the top 16 going to a qualifying school to try to earn a number of professional contracts.
Regardless of how he fares, Caldwell said it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
‘‘ It’s invaluable experience, you get to play and be mentored by someone like Phil Taylor. I was hoping to get to play him [in the semis on the Gold Coast] but he was on the other side of the draw. That would have been special.’’
Caldwell is part of the Kiwi team to take on the best in the Asia-Pacific Cup, beginning in Darwin on September 24. He will be joined by fellow Kapi Mana Darts Club player Polly Luke, who finished third-equal in the national singles, and runner- up with her partner Ebony Ngaire in the ladies’ pairs.
Luke is thrilled to be in the New Zealand team.
‘‘I’ve been a bridesmaid [first reserve] three times before, so it’s neat to make it.’’
Kapi Mana’s Leah Price was outstanding at the nationals, winning the singles from more than 200 others but missed out on a berth in the Kiwi team.
‘‘I was determined to win and it was an awesome feeling, now I just have to stay there [keep playing to the high standard],’’ Price said of her 4-0 demolition of fellow Wellington region player Anna Neho in the final.
Caldwell, who is sponsored by Puma, is arguably the best darts player in the country with his dominant victory in the open men’s division (251 entries).
He was runner-up with Tony Bull in the men’s pairs.
He has an an understanding partner, Cathy, and employer to thank for being able to follow his dream.
‘‘ I spend most of my leave travelling and playing darts. We incorporate holidays around tournaments, so I’m lucky.’’
Dead-eye for darts: Leah Price, Craig Caldwell and Polly Luke were in the zone at
the national darts champs in Rotorua in August with many of their Kapi Mana Darts Club colleagues also placing