By Jennifer Roback
On June 6, 2022, the Professional Women's Bowling Association headed to Long Island, New York, for the PWBA Classic Series, with featured three events.
The series concluded on June 12, with three women walking away with new hardware.
PWBA Long Island Classic
The PWBA Classic Series began with the PWBA Long Island Classic, which consisted of two six-game qualifying blocks, with 12-game totals determining the top 12 athletes advancing to round-robin match play.
Among those who advanced to the finals were No. 1 Bryanna Coté, No. 2 Dasha Kovalova, No. 3 Stefanie Johnson, No. 4 Diana Zavjalova, and No. 5 Liz Kuhlkin.
Kuhlkin ultimately climbed the stepladder to win her third career title and her first one in almost four years.
“It's a revival of my career,” Kuhlkin said following the match. “I really have felt the last two or three years my game has gotten better, but sometimes you need to see it on paper. To win the title kind of shows yourself, ‘You know, listen, you belong. You're an elite player on tour.’ And, winning this today is a revival of my career. This was the Liz Kuhlkin of 2018, but now she's back in 2022. It really feels that way.”
Kuhlkin began her rise to the top after defeating Zavjalova 215-180 and then followed it up with a 209-205 win over Johnson. She then advanced to the title match by defeating Kovalova 185-161.
In the title match, Kuhlkin then faced Coté, who had a 10-1-1 record in match play earlier in the day.
Kuhlkin started off the match strong with strikes in four of the first six frames but ran into trouble later on after missing two makeable spares in frames seven and eight.
At that point, Coté was not far behind after starting the match off with three strikes in the first six frames, however, a split in the seventh and spare in the eighth put her down by five pins.
She then finished with a spare and a strike for a 190, but it was not enough to fend off Kuhlkin who finished with a spare and 4-6-7 split to win by two.
“I really wanted to win for myself and for my family,” Kuhlkin continued. “I had to take a breather because there were a couple of shots where I really don't think I executed the best I could’ve. I was letting my emotions get to me a little bit. I knew that I was going to have to bowl a good game because Bryanna’s a great player. She's been bowling fantastic. I actually told myself before the match started that I had to make seven or eight good shots to win, and I think I ended up doing just that.
“A 10 pin was probably the pin I wanted to leave to make because I felt that’s an easy spare for me to pick up. I’m glad I didn’t leave a 3-6 because I missed it about 100 times this week. Then, I got emotional when I made it, but I realized, 'Hey, listen, you got to get six.’ It kind of ran through my mind, ‘Do I do the Pete Weber thing and throw it 100 miles an hour down the middle with a plastic ball?’ But, I've never done that and probably would’ve gotten three off the right, so I told myself just throw a good shot. I thought I threw a good shot and it still hooked. It could have been disastrous as well, but I got seven and got the job taken care of.”
PWBA BowlTV Classic
After the Long Island Classic concluded, the ladies were back on the lanes the next day for the PWBA BowlTV Classic, which followed the same format as the previous tournament.
The top five consisted of No. 1 Cherie Tan, No. 2 Shannon O'Keefe, No. 3 Clara Guerrero, No. 4 Julia Bond, and No. 5 Daphne Tan.
In the opening match, Daphne defeated Bond 228-226 but ultimately fell to Guerrero in Match 2, with a final score of 217-173.
Guerrero then went on to defeat O'Keefe 216-204 to face Cherie in the finals.
Despite Guerrero's dominant performance, she fell short in the finals and lost to Cherie 237-213.
“It’s great to win and be back in the winner's circle,” Cherie said after the match. “I've been feeling pretty good about my game, so I think this is validation that I'm going in the right direction.”
Earlier in the day, Cherie was 11th in the match play rounds but was able to skyrocket to first after finishing the day with an 11-1 record, and a 233.5 average.
“I think it was more of getting comfortable with the shape and the reaction,” she continued. “And, fine-tuning the surfaces on my equipment to match up to the pattern, because I had 12 games to slowly figure it out. My teammates and my coach also suggested I try a different area during practice, and it looked really good, so I carried on with it.”
PWBA BVL Classic
The PWBA Classic Series concluded with the PWBA BVL Classic, which consisted of the top 24 players from the previous events.
Those 24 bowlers then went on to round-robin match play, where five bowlers found success and advanced to the televised finals.
The finalists included No. 1 Danielle McEwan, No. 2 Shannon O'Keefe, No. 3 Stefanie Johnson, No. 4 Bryanna Coté, and No. 5 Diana Zavjalova.
Coté was able to climb the stepladder and claim her first win of the 2022 season.
The reigning PWBA Player of the Year started off hot with games of 289, 243, and 278 for an 810 series. She then went on to add a 212 game to her series and defeat No. 1 McEwan, who rolled a 152, which included three pocket 7-10 splits.
“It feels relieving and amazing,” Coté said of her win. “In my interview for TV today I said, ‘You have to learn to bowl on TV.’ I think I had to learn how to bowl on TV again. I was fortunate enough to win my first time on TV in 2016 and winning on BowlTV last year. It’s just steppingstones of learning to make good shots, learning to win matches, and then finally being able to make the shots when they count. And, stick to a simple game plan, and that’s what I did today and it paid off.”
The PWBA Tour will now head to upstate New York for the U.S. Women’s Open at Kingpin's Alley Family Fun Center from June 14 to 21.