Jennifer Jones shoots a stone during the quarterfinals of the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge in Regina. (Anil Mungal)

Jones, Sweeting advance to Tour Challenge semis

September 9, 2017, 4:24 PM

REGINA — Jennifer Jones jumped out of the gate to a big lead but had to hold on late to eliminate Jacqueline Harrison 7-6 in Saturday’s Tour Challenge Tier 1 women’s quarterfinals.

The seven-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner from Winnipeg was in control during the first half scoring three in the first and stealing points in back-to-back ends to lead 6-0. Harrison, from Mississauga, Ont., struggled in the second crashing on a guard to give up one and handed Jones two points in the third when her last sailed through the rings without touching a thing.

A single in four put Harrison on the scoreboard, but Jones matched in five to maintain the six-point advantage at 7-1.

The momentum swung in Harrison’s favour as she rallied scoring a deuce in six, stealing two in seven and put the pressure on in eight down by two without the hammer. Jones didn’t execute her last perfectly but limited the damage to just a steal of one to book a spot in the semifinals.

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Jones, who went 3-1 through round-robin play, will face Val Sweeting in the semifinals (Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE, 9:30 p.m. ET) after the Edmonton native defeated Michelle Englot’s Winnipeg team 8-5 in a repeat of the event’s final from a year ago.

Sweeting grabbed a 5-3 lead in the fifth hitting and sticking around for a count of three.

Englot made two great draws in six for a skip’s deuce to pull back ahead by one.

Hitting three-pointers like Steph Curry, Sweeting earned her second trey of the game in the seventh on a sizzling shot knocking out a counter and nudging one of her own to bump out another Englot stone.

Englot jammed a counter in eight on her first skip stone, losing both the shooter and her lone rock in the house, to bring out handshakes.

Team Sweeting rolled through the round-robin stage posting a perfect 4-0 record.

Scotland’s Eve Muirhead knocked off Alina Paetz of Switzerland 5-3. Muirhead, a four-time Grand Slam champion, scored two in the third and stole a pair in five to go up 4-2. Paetz only managed a single in seven and Muirhead tacked on a point in eight.

Paetz powered through the round robin at 4-0 and took the top seed with the better shootout score while Muirhead went 2-2 and needed a win over Julie Tippin in Friday’s evening tiebreaker to qualify for the playoffs.

Muirhead meets Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg in the semifinals. Hasselborg advanced scoring three in the seventh for a 7-4 victory over Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland.

Hasselborg lost to Englot on the opening night of the Tour Challenge on Tuesday but has now won four straight heading into the semifinals.

In the Tier 2 division women’s quarters, Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson topped Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., 6-4. Einarson, who won the inaugural Tier 2 title in 2015, goes up against Binia Feltscher of Switzerland in the semifinals. The two-time world champion Feltscher beat Russia’s Anna Sidorova 8-5.

The other side of the bracket sees 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner Chelsea Carey against reigning U.S. champ Jamie Sinclair. Carey, of Calgary, reached the semis scoring three in the eighth to earn an 8-5 win over Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque. Sinclair stole a point in an extra end to edge Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton 5-4.

The Tour Challenge Tier 1 men’s quarterfinals are up next (Sportsnet ONE, 5:30 p.m. ET) with Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., vs. Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock, Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., vs. American John Shuster, Pat Simmons’s team from Winnipeg vs. Norway’s Steffen Walstad and Toronto’s John Epping vs. Niklas Edin of Sweden.

NOTES: The Tour Challenge is the season-opening event of the 2017-18 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling calendar and runs through to Sunday at the Co-operators Centre at Evraz Place. … Winners of the Tier 1 division receive invites to the season-ending Pinty’s GSOC event, the Humpty’s Champions Cup, running April 24-29 in Calgary. … Winners of the Tier 2 division earn berths to the following Pinty’s GSOC event, the Masters, taking place Oct. 24-29 in Lloydminster, Sask.