IT'S a classic case of like father, like son with Daniel Tomberry qualifying for the national stages of the Bowls England singles championship alongside dad Mark.

This family feat is unique in Dorset bowls history and means both Alexandra Park players will be flying the flag for the county at Royal Leamington Spa on August 28-29.

The Tomberrys booked their tickets to Warwickshire in contrasting style on Dorset semi-finals night at Poole Park. Mark swept past Bob Hobby (Poole Park) 21-4 and then nervously paced the floor out of sight from the green as 25-year-old Daniel ground out a 21-18 victory against Paul Pomeroy of Lyme Regis.

Dad's joy was uncontained. He said: "Daniel getting through was one of the proudest days of my bowling life. Everybody who knows me will realise what it means for me to reach the national singles - it's the ultimate thing we can do - but on that particular day Daniel qualifying in the singles for the first time gave me even more pleasure than myself going through.

"I know what it meant to him to achieve something he never possibly believed he would do.

"I couldn't bear to watch his match and had to rely on people on the bank telling me what was happening. When Daniel won it was brilliant and we gave each other a big hug. I was so glad he had done it."

Daniel summed up his feelings in one word: "Elated! It's always been an ambition of mine to get through in the singles and to do it with dad makes it very special.

"He has been more influential than anyone on my bowls career - he's been my coach and mentor and always supported me. I knew he'd won his semi-final when I was playing but that didn't make me any more determined because I was very determined to win already."

For Mark, getting to the national singles showdown is nothing new. This is the seventh time the 57-year-old has achieved it, five with Dorset and two from Hertfordshire, a county he left in 1988.

His first appearance was 31 years ago while with the Townsend club at St Albans and his best performance came as a Wimborne bowler in 2003 when he was a semi-finalist. He has also played in two quarter-finals - the second of those in 2012 with Alex Park - and twice been in the last 16.

Though this will be his singles' baptism Daniel has past experience of the nationals having played alongside his father in pairs and fours.

What will be new for both men, however, is the venue because this is the first season the men's championships are being held at Leamington Spa rather than Worthing, the traditional home of the male game.

Hopes that they would be able to encourage each other in their first-round matches are remote. "There are five greens there and I have been drawn on A green against a Worcestershire opponent - Daniel couldn't be further away as he is on E green against a bowler from Surrey," said Mark.

The Dorset twosome are in different halves of the draw, so if they do meet it would be in the final. "That would be something!" said dad who will face Daniel for the county title two days after Leamington Spa at Dorchester.

Mark has won the Dorset crown three times but this final is not a confrontation he relishes: "I am not looking forward to it at all. We don't like playing each other and if I should win I wouldn't get any pleasure at all."

Daniel, who began bowling aged 13 at Wimborne, echoed that sentiment: "We hate playing each other but I will go out and try my best. But there must be a result and whoever wins will be buying the drinks."

Their previous outdoor encounters in meaningful competitions stand 4-1 to father - their only county singles scrap ending 21-20 to him - but Mark thinks Daniel fully capable of turning the tide as he feels his son has now added maturity to his undoubted ability.

  • The father/son singles qualification for the nationals had never been achieved before yet remarkably this summer it has happened twice because the Tomberrys will be joined at Leamington by Martin and Bradley Coles from Mark's former county Hertfordshire.