6 www.bowlingworld.com - April 2018 SERVING THE BOWLING INDUSTRY SINCE 1967 Nevada Bowler Reaches Milestone At 2018 USBC Open Championships By Fran Piraino SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Susan Martin never intended to be a trailblazer when she bowled in her first United States Bowling Congress Open Champion- ships i n 1994. Yet, the 61-year-old right-hander from Reno, Nevada, re- corded a special milestone recently by becoming the first female in tourna- ment history to record 25 appearances on the championship lanes. As she approached her 25th USBC Open Championships, Martin took the steps necessary to make sure she was on the first squad of the year when it was time to make the memorable march to the lanes, and that happened Saturday at the Oncenter Convention Center, where she helped kick off the 2018 event. "This is exciting," Martin said. "I've wanted to accomplish certain things in my bowling career, and this is one of them. To get to 25 years, and be the first woman to do it, is pretty remarkable." Originally called the American Bowling Congress Championships Tournament, the event was male-only from its inception in 1901, until ABC opened its membership to women in 1994. That included participating in the national tournament for the first time. Martin made her tournament debut that year in Mobile, Alabama, and bowled in doubles and singles as a substitute, replacing a bowler who fractured his wrist. She does recall that a few male competitors were not initially receptive of women bowl- ing in the Open Championships. "I heard some remarks, especially because I wore a skirt to bowl," said Martin, a past state doubles champion in Tennessee and Nevada. "At the time, there was a lot of controversy about women being allowed to bowl." Martin was among a handful of women to compete in the 1994 event. Mary Hammack of Grand Bay, Alabama, had the distinction of being the first female competitor. "At first, some men were OK with it, or they hated it," Martin said. "Eventually, over the years, things gradually changed. Now, it's no big deal, and women are welcomed. The way I see it is we are all bowlers, and we're all a part of the same community." Being a part of the Open Championships is something Martin looks forward to each year. She usually bowls in April or May but moved up her reservation to opening night to ensure she would be the first female to earn a 25-year plaque, which will hang on a wall at her home with her other bowling awards. Martin rolled a 463 series in team this year and followed it with 450 in doubles (with her husband Dave) and 387 in singles. Her career tournament average stands at 166. "Of course, you want to bowl well, but that's not the main reason I'm here," Martin said. "I get excited to see all the bowlers here. To see all the different bowlers, from the young kids out of high school to the ones who have been here for 50 years, that's what I enjoy most." Martin is heavily invested in grooming the next generation of bowlers. For the past 12 years, she has worked with high school bowlers attending Northern Nevada schools as the director of the High Desert Interscholastic Bowling Program. Martin also is the proud mother of two daughters who are bowlers, Katie and Laura. "Working with the kids is important to me," Martin said. "They are the future of the sport." Eight other women are scheduled to reach the 25-year plateau in 2018 - Rayetta Dominguez of Grove, Oklahoma; Clyde Feagin of De Kalb, Texas; Shirley Gordon of Cumberland Foreside, Maine; Tisha Haynes of Las Vegas; Marleen Huikko of Buffalo, Minnesota; Leslie Rainville of Pacifica, California; Kathie Tekavec of Leadville, Colorado; and Carolyn Wing of Pacifica, California. Dominguez made history in 1994 as the first female champion at the Open Champion- ships, helping Canterbury Lanes 1 to the Booster Team title, while Gordon is part of a family legacy - her husband Fred has made 52 tournament appearances, and their son Scott has logged a dozen. PWBA Stars Prepare For Upcoming Season By Competing In USBC Masters By Aaron Smith As the excitement builds for the start of the 2018 Professional Women's Bowl- ing Association season, several of the Tour's stars are working in a final tune up at the United States Bowling Congress Masters. There are six PWBA players are among the 360 competitors in the field this week at the Oncenter Convention Center, including three-time reigning PWBA Player of the Year Liz Johnson of Palatine, Illinois, and 2017 PWBA Rookie of the Year Daria Pajak of Poland. Three-time PWBA Tour champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, two-time USBC Queens champion Diana Zavjalova of Latvia, 2016 PWBA Players Championship winner Clara Guerrero of Colombia and former Team USA member Ashly Galante of Palm Harbor, Florida, also are compet- ing this week at the custom-built 48-lane venue. The 2018 PWBA Tour season starts April 26 in Las Vegas at the PWBA Las Vegas Open and will conclude in September at the PWBA Tour Championship in Richmond, Virginia. Guerrero led the PWBA contingent during Tuesday's opening round, averag- ing more than 211 during her five-game block to finish the day in 34th place with a 1,058 total. She has been actively preparing for the season but only has competed in one recent event - the Brunswick Euro Challenge last month in Germany - since the start of 2018. "I've been spending a lot of time in the gym and on the lanes, which hasn't been any different than previous years, but I haven't been competing as much," said Guerrero, who had a high finish of second during the 2017 season at the PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open. "This is only my second tourna- ment of the year, so I definitely wanted to come out here to prepare and get ready. Bowling against the men always is challenging, and it will help get me in the right mindset for the season." Guerrero has been fighting a nagging finger injury on her bowling hand since last season, but she has continued to adjust her span to alleviate some of the tension. She didn't have an opportunity to take much of a break after the con- clusion of the 2017 PWBA Tour season due to several events with the Colom- bian national team, but she feels the tough 40-foot oil pattern being used this week at the Oncenter Convention Center will help her moving forward to the Las Vegas Open. "I still have the small injury from last year, and it was hard to recover since I never stopped bowling," Guerrero said. "The adjustments I've made to my fit are feeling better, and I've also worked on some adjustments in my physical game to feel sharper. The pattern is difficult this week, so I think it will also show me if there's anything else I need to work on." The best finish by a woman at the Masters happened at the 2012 event in Henderson, NV, when 2011 Queens champion Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, CA, finished tied for ninth place. "The idea during the first round was to stay farther right and not migrate left with the guys," Guerrero said. "I was able to accomplish that by using different speeds and releases, and I'm happy with my start. The mindset for the next two days will probably be the same, but I know I have to stay open minded, too. If I don't see what I saw playing further right or have to make a big jump left on the burn, I'll be ready for that. But the main goal is stay out and away from where the guys are at. That would be a good thing for me." McEwan finished Tuesday's opening round 10 pins outside of the cut number with a 1,021 total. Johnson was 34 pins out of the cut with 997, while Pajak (919), Zavjalova (904) and Galante (901) were a little further back in the stand- ings with 10 games remaining. Live coverage of the 2018 Masters can be found on Xtra Frame, the Profes- sional Bowlers Association's. The stepladder finals of seven of the 14 events during the 2018 PWBA Tour season will be featured live on Xtra Frame. The other seven events will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.