Rookies 'in for a treat'

JIM BENDER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

KILLARNEY -- Lead Raunora Westcott had lost four various provincial finals, including two with former skip Kristy Jenion.

Second Leslie Wilson also lost two with Jenion, while third Kristen Phillips lost the 2008 final with Barb Spencer.

All three finally won their first Manitoba women's title, under the guidance of veteran skip Jill Thurston yesterday, and are heading to their first Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

"I won my junior final in 1996 and I've lost four provincial finals since then," said Westcott, an account manager with a leasing company. "It feels really good. I'm so excited, I don't know what to say."

Wilson has played with Wescott the past seven seasons.

"I'm just beside myself," Wilson, an environmental specialist, said after Thurston nipped Assiniboine Memorial's Janet Harvey 7-6 in an extra end in yesterday's final. "I feel like I've been working for this since I was, like 15. I'm totally beside myself right now.

"I lost two finals with Jenion and I know how it feels to be the Harvey team right now. But it feels good to finally be on the other end of it now ... Man, first nationals. I've always dreamed about playing there. I've always thought about playing there and I think I'll be looking a lot at Jill for guidance."

Phillips went to the 2007 Scotties as fifth for Jennifer Jones but will get her first game action.

"We worked really hard for this," said the agricultural production advisor. "We spent a lot of time on mental prep ... Every single game, we backed up against the wall and we just fought hard."

Thurston seemed relatively unconcerned she is taking rookies to the national stage.

"The experience factor is definitely missing but you get the same kind of feeling when you play in these provincials because you're playing in front of a big crowd and it's kind of the same atmosphere," said the pharmaceutical technician. "But I think they're going to be in for a treat just because I know what to expect and I'll have so much fun watching them enjoy it.

"Curling's curling, right? You just have to throw at the broom with the right weight. Easy, right? I think they'll handle the pressure just fine ... Raunora and Leslie are a great front end. They're amazing sweepers."

Thurston has played with Phillips before.

"Kristen was unbelievable all week long," she said. "She made a lot of shots, a lot of big doubles, a lot of big hits and rolls."

Thurston has added Kendra Georges as her fifth.


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