Scharf solid at 2-0

DONALD DUENCH -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

MISSISSAUGA -- Provincial women's curling champion Krista Scharf took an excellent first step toward retaining her title yesterday.

Scharf's foursome, from the Fort William curling club in Thunder Bay, and Jenn Hanna, the 2005 champion from Ottawa, are alone at 2-0 after the first day of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Scharf beat two of the top teams in the competition, defeating three-time provincial champion Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater 8-5 in the afternoon and veteran skip Jo-Ann Rizzo 7-3 at night.

Against Middaugh, Scharf stole a pair of points in the final end for the victory when Middaugh overcurled on a hit attempt. A steal of three in the fifth end -- "three little biters" left over after Rizzo rolled out on a takeout -- was pivotal in the evening.

Scharf admitted her team would have been happy ending the day with a 1-1 record. "We're extremely happy with 2-0," she said.

Living in Thunder Bay is a challenge for a curling team that wants to improve its game. The nearest cashspiel for Scharf's team was in Duluth, Minn., a four-hour drive away. The team also flew to Calgary and Regina for cashspiels.

To improve its game without travelling, Scharf's team is competing in a Thunder Bay men's league this season. "Being in the Men's Major League helped us a lot," Scharf said.

Scharf said that her team has learned its lessons on how to deal with the long week of competition.

"We have to take it one end, one game at a time," she said. "If you have a bad game, you have to let it go."

Hanna, who turned 27 yesterday, turned a tight game into a laugher in her afternoon game against Alison Goring from the Bayview Golf and Country Club. Tied 3-3 after five ends, Hanna scored three points with the hammer, then stole one in the seventh and two in the eighth for handshakes and a 9-3 win.

At night, Hanna also ended early, defeating Arynn Frantz of the Coniston curling club 10-3 in seven ends.

Six teams are tied at 1-1. Frantz and Michele Boland of the Fort William club are 0-2.

GAUDET WINS PEI

Suzanne Gaudet's team has qualified for the national Tournament of Hearts by winning the PEI title.

Gaudet's team joins the Kelly Scott foursome, which won the 2006 title and defends as Team Canada.


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