Samantha Ponak of Mission, B.C. was crowned as Canada’s top young female darts player, winning first place for singles (over 16) at the Canadian National Youth Darts Championship.
The national tournament was held from May 19 to 23 in Toronto, with each province bringing their top 10 players for both doubles and singles competition.
The tourney starts with a round robin, then playoffs before the finals are played on a stage in front of hundreds of people. Seventeen-year-old Ponak, said it felt surreal to win.
“It was like a realization of like, ‘Holy crap … I just won singles. Now I’m first in Canada,’” she said. “I will have to defend my title next year because there’s eight other provinces coming for me.”
Jeff Ponak, her father, is a provincially ranked darts player in B.C. He said she’s been competing for four years, starting after he signed her up for a youth group in Abbotsford.
He said the room “erupted” when she scored a 177: “It’s called the perfect score.”
The games were being live-streamed for audiences across Canada. Jeff said his daughter once suffered from anxiety, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from her performance.
“Jump four years later, here she is on stage, as cool as a cucumber,” he said. Jeff nicknamed her “The Uprising.”
Ponak came home with a big trophy, $500, and invitations to play for the World Masters in the Netherlands and Jamaica. They are now trying to fundraise to send her to play against the world’s best.
She said she practises a couple times a week during the school year, and credits her dad for tutoring her skill.
“He’s never gone easy on me .. he’s not gonna let me win,” Ponak said. “He’s like, ‘You play me, then you’ll get better.’”