BIG YEAR: Matthew BausSWANSEA champion Matthew Baus has become the youngest player to be crowned Newcastle district bowler of the year.

The 23-year-old started the year by making his debut for NSW and finished as the State Champion of Club Champions singles titleholder.

Along the way he helped NSW remain undefeated in winning the Alley Shield Australian Sides Championship, was named in the Australian Emerging Players squad and won the Newcastle district champion of club singles champions and the district triples championships.

He was a semi-finalist in the state triples championship and Newcastle district major singles championship and a member of the Swansea team who were beaten in the Newcastle district No.1-grade pennant final.

Last night, Baus became the third Swansea player to receive the gong.

Rocket Thomson was the inaugural recipient in 1994 and Sam Laguzza won the first of his three titles while with Swansea in 1998.

Ryan Steel (Lambton) claimed the inaugural Newcastle district encouragement award, which replaced the most improved bowler of the year gong.

Steel, 25, beat Baus to claim the Newcastle district under-25 singles and played in the Lambton side who were semi-finalists in the Newcastle district No.1 grade pennant.

He became a regular member of the Newcastle district representative side.

Sean Cairns (Raymond Terrace) was named the Newcastle district junior bowler of the year.

Cairns was successful in the Newcastle district junior triples and fours championships and was a member of the Raymond Terrace side who claimed the Newcastle district No.2 grade pennant.

He was runner-up in the Newcastle district junior singles championship.

Allan Starrett (New Lambton), who recently relinquished his role as chairman of the state and Newcastle district coaching committees due to family reasons, was named Newcastle district coach of the year.