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Jones tops Lawes to claim HearingLife Tour Challenge women’s title

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Jennifer Jones captured her 10th title in the Grand Slam of Curling series after defeating former teammate Kaitlyn Lawes 7-4 Sunday in the women’s final of the HearingLife Tour Challenge.

Although Jones has now reached double digits, it’s her first with her Winnipeg and Altona, Man., club featuring third Karlee Burgess, second Emily Zacharias and lead Lauren Lenentine.

“It feels amazing,” Jones said. “It’s been a while. Just to do it with the girls, they’re so amazing, and to be in their first Slam final and come out with a win, that’ll be something that they’ll remember forever and I’m glad I could be a part of it.”

Jones weathered the storm through the round-robin finishing with a 2-2 record and needing draw-to-the-button shootout totals to qualify as the No. 7 seed. The team upended Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 7-4 in the quarterfinals and Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg 7-5 in the semis to reach the championship game.

“It’s so exciting,” Burgess said. “It was a long week, it was battle going 2-2 in the round-robin, but we just wanted to get through those quarters and then keep on winning. It’s super cool to win my first Grand Slam and to do it along with these girls and Jenn is pretty special.”

Lawes, who returned to her skip roots last year after 12 seasons with Jones, also had a rocky round-robin at 2-2 and snuck into the final playoff spot. Her club ousted No. 1 Team Eun-Ji Gim from South Korea 7-4 and edged Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 6-4.

Although Lawes won the shootout to start with the hammer, it was Jones who held the early advantage. Jones forced Lawes to just a single in the first and then jumped into the lead in the second with a nifty bump that spilled the shooter into the house to score three points.

“That was massive,” Jones said. “It really changed the momentum of the game. They were looking good in the first end and we managed to force them. Then we got a pretty fortunate three in the second end, started controlling the game and never really looked back.”

Burgess added: “Scoring a deuce first or getting a big end first is huge for us just so we could control, get a little more comfortable and keep with it. It was awesome.” 

With a chance to possibly score the tying two points in the third, Lawes attempted a double but missed Jones’ second counter to fall behind 4-1.

Lawes recovered in the fourth and capitalized after Jones missed a double by drawing for a deuce and narrowing the gap to one.

That was as close as it would get as Jones pulled off a runback in the fifth to count another couple of points to make it 6-3.

The teams alternated singles in six and seven and the three-point deficit was too much for Lawes to overcome as Jones ran her out of rocks in the final frame with an open hit.

“We were kind of grinding and found ways to win some games when we had to,” Jones said. “We played some great teams in the playoffs and came out on top. It shows a lot of character and they came out to play today, which was fabulous to see.”

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Team Eun-Jung Kim defeated Denmark’s Team Madeleine Dupont 7-4 to claim the HearingLife Tour Challenge Tier 2 women’s title.

Kim earned a berth into the top ranks for the Co-op Canadian Open later this season.