By Jennifer Roback
Jillian Martin is starting 2022 off strong following her successful 2021 season, which saw the 17-year-old not only win the PBA Junior National Championship title but also become the youngest ever to win a Professional Women's Bowling Association national title.
On January 30, 2022, Martin beat 15-year-old Kayla Starr 201-179 to defend her PBA Junior title, setting herself up for another successful year.
“It feels amazing,” Martin told the PBA, “especially going up there in the 10th frame knowing I needed all three to put the pressure on Kayla to get a double. Just to be able to go up there and do it is a big confidence boost.”
Starr climbed up the stepladder averaging 245 over the course of three games but fell short in the final frame against Martin after holding a 27-pin lead through five frames.
Martin struck out in the 10th, forcing Starr to double and get one pin for the win, however, the Maryland resident left a pocket 7-10.
Martin took home the trophy and the $16,000 SMART scholarship, which she will likely use when she heads to the University of Nebraska later this year to start her collegiate career.
Following the championship match, Martin then teamed up with PWBA legend Liz Johnson to compete in the PBA/PWBA Pro/Junior Doubles Competition.
Starr bowling with Danielle McEwan but fell short during the five-frame game. Martin/Johnson defeated Starr/McEwan, 129-108, putting them into the championship match against Landin Jordan and Professional Bowlers Association pro EJ Tackett.
“I think it is really cool how they include the pros,” Martin said. “It’s great to have an opportunity to bowl with Liz, have some fun and go out there and strike a lot.”
Despite a winning streak, Martin and Johnson lost to Team Jordan/Tackett 267-237.
Following the doubles matchup, Martin raced to the airport to get on a plane to Indianapolis to bowl in the U.S. Open Pre-Tournament Qualifier, where she placed 23rd, earning a spot in the tournament.
Before heading off to college this fall, Martin plans on competing in more PWBA Tour events and PBA Junior Regional Tournaments.