It was a dominant performance by Victoria at the 2015 Junior Interstate Series, taking out both the boys’ and girls’ championships, a feat that Victoria has achieved just once prior in 1979.
The 2015 titles mark the 11th time Victoria has won the boys’ tournament and the 6th time they have won the girls’.
The boys’ team entered the series as defending champions and achieved back-to-back titles for the first time since 1958 and 1959, the first two years the tournament ran.
The event was held between 13-16 April at Fleurieu Golf Club for the girls and at Links Lady Bay Golf Club for the boys.
Captain Oliva Kline led Stephanie Bunque, Alexandra Hilliard, Soo Bin Park, Cheerie Tan and Zara Woodbridge undefeated through two outstanding days of golf.
The girls’ squad was coached by VIS Assistant Coach, Darren Cole and managed by Jo Charlton.
“It’s a really testing course and we just told the girls that pars would get the job done,” Charlton said.
“We just talked about hitting fairways and greens and not much else and that’s exactly what they did. It’s incredible and the girls are justifiably rapt – we all are.”
The girls entered the series ranked fifth of five teams, according to the Australian rankings, but defeated the odds and all competing states to secure the title.
“You always go in with a bit of faith and do the simple things well and we thought third would be great.
“But once you have that belief, anything is possible,” Charlton said.
A highlight of the event was an albatross coming from Tan. With only 3 holes to go in her second round match, Tan was square with South Australia’s Jin-Young Yun when she took just two shots on the par 5 16th to take a crucial lead and went on to win the match 1 up.
It was a promising spectacle as all of the girls won individual matches throughout the series. Bunque and Tan shone particularly bright, winning their matches in all four contests.
“They’ve worked really well all week and they’re a great little unit… we’re a happy little camp.
“All the girls have really improved in the past year, but we didn’t expect this,” Charlton said.
The win was guaranteed prior to the final round after their round 4 victory over former champs Queensland who had won 6 of the last 8 series coming into the tournament. The Victorians had a bye for the final round but could rest assured while competing states played off for subsequent positions.
With their tournament wrapped up the girls took to Links Lady Bay Golf Club to support boys’ captain Ryan Ruffels and teammates Cameron John, Josh Hetherington, Konrad Ciupek, Aidan Didone and Matias Sanchez in their final round decider against Queensland.
Golf Victoria High Performance Manager and boys’ team manager, Ashley Marshall spoke about the historic Victorian boys’ win.
“This group of young men were very tight knit all week and credit also goes to assistant manager Mark Bamford and Coach David Capaldo, who has now won his third boys series,” said Marshall.
“This was always going to be a very close competition with a number of states fielding strong teams. We knew the match against New South Wales would be tough, but the pivotal match was against Western Australia where we were well down all day and battled hard to halve the match and keep our chances alive.”
After round 5 the Victorians found themselves in a three-way tie alongside New South Wales and Western Australia. They went on to win their round 6 contest against the Northern Territory placing them as equal leaders with Western Australia. New South Wales dropped out of contention after losing their contest against South Australia.
“At this point we knew what we had to do… it was in our hands. Our team meeting the night before the final day showed the boys intent to play their best and ‘get it done’. Everybody rallied together for one last effort, players, coaches, managers and caddies,” Marshall said.
The stage was set coming into the final round with Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland teams all in contention. Western Australia halved their final round contest against New South Wales meaning Victoria’s 3.5-1.5 win against Queensland guaranteed them the title.
“Konrad [Ciupek] secured an early win and Aiden [Didone] rallied for a half in his match. It was still up in the air when Cameron [John] teed off on the 18th hole. When Cameron won his match on the last hole we looked home, as Josh [Hetherington] was all square after 16 and Ryan [Ruffels] 2 up.
“Ryan secured his match and we were home. Josh, who had been undefeated all week, unfortunately lost on the 18th, but spirits were high as the team embraced as winners,” said Marshall.
The win caps off an incredible fortnight of golf for the team captain Ryan Ruffels who remained undefeated through all seven rounds playing at the number one spot. Just a week earlier, Ruffels secured the Australian Boys’ Amateur title by an astonishing 15 shots.
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