By Emil Williams Jr.
SEMINOLE, Fla. – Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina, capped off a historic weekend in Florida by capturing her first career Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour title at the 2022 St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open.
Clemmer defeated Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona, 226-181, in the title match at Seminole Lanes to claim the victory and collect the $20,000 top prize. The stepladder was broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
Clemmer, the No. 1 seed, opened the title match by missing a single-pin spare, but just as she did throughout the weekend, she didn’t allow the miscue to affect her mentally. She quickly refocused her energy and proceeded to fire six consecutive strikes to take control of the match.
Coté, who was in the midst of potentially climbing the ladder for her third career PWBA Tour title, began to lose her look on the lanes near the end of her semifinal match, and her run ultimately ended after she missed the 2-4-5 combination in the fifth. Coté was unable to put two strikes together during the game.
This weekend will forever be in the memory of Clemmer, who on Friday night, blistered the pins for a 1,595 six-game total, which included a four-game run of 289, 300, 300 and 279. The final three games of the block broke the PWBA Tour record for highest three-game set at 879.
Now, the 24-year-old right-hander adds her name to the history book yet again, this time as a PWBA champion.
“It just feels amazing,” Clemmer said. “I feel pretty great. It’s been a long time coming. Obviously, I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet, but I think it will tonight when I go home or go back to the hotel. It feels great just to do it with my grandparents here. That means the world to me. I just have so much love for them.”
Her grandparents, Jimmy and Barbara Clemmer, better known as Poppy and Maw-Maw, have been in attendance all weekend, since this is the last event they will be able to see in person for the foreseeable future. Jimmy will be preparing to undergo surgery in a couple of weeks to replace both of his hips and be unable to travel. He’s still working his way back from a 2020 battle with COVID-19, which had him on a ventilator for 11 days, while he was unable to move.
Their support truly means everything for Clemmer.
“It means a lot for them to be here,” Clemmer said. “It was not looking good during those 11 days, and by the grace of God, he started breathing on his own. Since then, he’s been battling back and hip issues from lying in bed for so long, but now we’re getting back to where he needs to be. Having their support along with the support from everyone else truly means a lot.”
Clemmer starred at McKendree, helping the program win two national championships. She was a four-time National Tenpin Coaches Association Division II/III Player of the Year (2017-2020). A heap of expectations would be placed on any player with the collegiate career she produced, but many of those expectations came from others and not herself.
As Clemmer’s professional journey evolves in her second season, she continues to learn about herself as a player, and she’s also learned to only focus on the voices that really matter the most in her life, which puts less pressure on her overall. As far as setting records and winning titles goes, she knew she could win, but having a night like Friday, even she could not have imagined that.
“I knew I was capable of winning a title, but to do what I did on Friday, I never thought I was capable of that,” Clemmer said. “I always knew I was great and that I was going to be good, but I never dreamt of this. I used to put so much pressure on myself to be perfect because before I came out on tour, I had won everything.
“But, not winning a title last year and not winning rookie of the year really took a toll on me. Last year, I felt like I disappointed a lot of people, when the only person I was disappointing was myself. I know the only thing that matters is what I think, what my grandparents think and what my family thinks. That’s all that matters to me, and those are the only opinions that I really truly care about.”
Coté bowled great throughout the stepladder and recognized sometimes it’s just not your day.
“I’m 100% happy with my performance,” said Coté, the 2021 PWBA Player of the Year. “Obviously winning would have been the icing on the cake, but I executed, filled frames and had one open in four games. I just tried to make shots, and if my score was the highest one at the end, then so be it. Bre bowled amazing, and I will never take that away from her. She deserved that win. She dominated all week, and it was a pleasure to watch. So, I’m super happy for her. But again, I’m not sad about my performance. I did all I could. And at the end of the day, if I do all I can and I keep coming in second, that’s pretty good.”
She advanced to the title match after defeating Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova, 218-203. Coté stayed clean throughout the match, with the difference being a missed 10 pin in the eighth frame by Zavjalova, who was looking to defend her title from the 2018 event and pick up her first victory since that time.
In Match 2, Coté moved past No. 3 Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, 224-172. Coté opened the match with a double, followed by two consecutive spares and another double. Richard struggled to get anything going early, and two open frames in the middle of the match sealed her fate.
In the opening match, Coté defeated No. 5 Verity Crawley of England, 222-221. Coté struck in six of the first seven frames, but a split in the ninth frame provided Crawley some hope. Crawley, who opened the match with a split of her own, tossed two strikes in frames eight and nine to force Coté to fill 20 pins to shut out Crawley. After leaving a 10 pin on first shot, Coté made the spare and followed with a strike to secure the win.
The 93-player field in Seminole bowled 12 games Friday, before the first cut to the top 31 athletes. Advancers bowled an additional six-game block Saturday morning, with the top 12 competing in a final six-game round to determine the five bowlers for the stepladder, based on 24-game pinfall totals.
The 2022 PWBA Tour season now will head to Maple Lanes in Rockville Centre, New York, for the PWBA Classic Series – Long Island. The week features three national tour stops and will run from June 6-12.
The national tournaments on the schedule for the Classic Series – Long Island include the PWBA Long Island Classic (June 6-8), PWBA BowlTV Classic (June 9-10) and PWBA BVL Classic (June 11-12).
The finals for the Long Island Classic and BowlTV Classic will be streamed live at BowlTV.com at 7 p.m. Eastern on June 8 and 10, respectively. The finals of the BVL Classic will be broadcast live June 12 at 5 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
The same format will be used for the Long Island Classic and BowlTV Classic. Competitors will bowl 12 games of qualifying, before the top 12 players advance to round-robin match play. After 12 games of match play, the top five bowlers will advance to the stepladder finals, based on total pinfall and bonus pins for each victory in match play.
The BVL Classic will feature the top 24 players from the Long Island Classic and BowlTV Classic, based on their 24-game qualifying totals. Total pinfall will drop at the start of the BVL Classic, and the 24 advancers will bowl 24 games of round-robin match play to determine the five bowlers for the stepladder finals, based on total pinfall and bonus pins.
For more information on the PWBA, visit PWBA.com.
2022 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open
At Seminole Lanes
1, Breanna Clemmer, Clover, S.C., 226 (one game), $20,000.
2, Bryanna Coté, Tucson, Ariz., 845 (four games), $10,000.
3, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 203 (one game), $7,700.
4, Jordan Richard, Maumee, Ohio, 172 (one game), $6,600.
5, Verity Crawley, England, 221 (one game), $5,600.
Match No. 1 – Coté def. Crawley, 222-221.
Match No. 2 – Coté def. Richard, 224-172.
Semifinal – Coté def. Zavjalova, 218-203.
Championship – Clemmer def. Coté, 226-181.
CLEMMER EARNS TOP SEED AT 2022 PWBA ST. PETERSBURG-CLEARWATER OPEN
SEMINOLE, Fla. – Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina, continued her run toward her first career title after earning the top seed for the Professional Women’s Bowling Association St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open.
The finals will be broadcast live Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network with the champion taking home the $20,000 first-place prize. All qualifying rounds leading up to the televised finals were broadcast live at BowlTV.com.
Clemmer will be joined in the stepladder by No. 2 Diana Zavjalova of Latvia, No. 3 Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, No. 4 Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona, and No. 5 Verity Crawley of England.
The 24-year-old right-hander traded places with Zavjalova almost every game during the Round of 12, but when it mattered most, Clemmer buckled down and tossed games of 258 and 266 during the final two games of competition Saturday to pull away and take the top seed.
Clemmer entered the day in the lead after rolling the highest six-game block since the relaunch of the PWBA Tour on Friday night with 1,595. The block included a four-game run of 289, 300, 300 and 279. The final three games of the block broke the PWBA Tour record for highest three-game set at 879.
Clemmer was in a similar situation at the season-opening PWBA Rockford Open, where she held the top seed until the final two games, when two-time champion Liz Kuhlkin stepped in and seized the top spot.
Today, it was a different Clemmer, who was determined to not only leave Seminole Lanes as the No. 1 seed, but also trust her instincts when it came to ball changes and lane moves. This was something she did not do in the previous two events, the United States Bowling Congress Queens and last week’s Twin Cities Open, where she missed both cuts.
“I was very hesitant to make moves and ball changes at the Queens and in Minnesota,” said Clemmer, who is making her second championship-round appearance of 2022. “I didn’t trust what my gut was telling me to do. And, when I finally trusted what my gut was telling me to do, it was too late. I went 150 over and didn’t make the cut in Minnesota. So, it’s very frustrating. This weekend, I trusted my gut, I did what I wanted to do, and I went with it. I just committed to every single shot. I think that was the difference between the Queens and Minnesota to now.”
Zavjalova, whose last title came at the 2018 St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, will look to defend her crown and win for the first time in two seasons. Zavjalova was looking forward to getting back on the lanes at this event and now will have a chance to be the event’s first two-time winner and claim her fifth title overall.
Richard, who moved from sixth to third in the final block, also is making a return trip to the finals at this event after she finished fourth in 2018 during her PWBA Rookie of the Year campaign. She is searching for her third career PWBA Tour title.
Coté, the reigning PWBA Player of the Year, moved from 11th to fourth during the Round of 12 and is returning to the bright lights of television for the second consecutive week after a fourth-place finish at the Twin Cities Open. She is in search of her third career title.
Crawley is making her first championship-round appearance of the season after jumping from eighth to fifth during the final round. She nabbed her first career PWBA Tour title last season at the 2021 Greater Nashville Open and accumulated six finals appearances in 2021. She was tied for the lead in that category with Coté, Ukraine’s Dasha Kovalova and Stephanie Zavala of Downey, California.
For more information on the PWBA, visit PWBA.com.
2022 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open
At Seminole Lanes
QUALIFYING ROUND 4
1, Breanna Clemmer, Clover, S.C., 5,698. 2, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 5,545. 3, Jordan Richard, Maumee, Ohio, 5,480. 4, Bryanna Coté, Tucson, Ariz., 5,409. 5, Verity Crawley, England, 5,407.
DID NOT ADVANCE
6, Shannon O’Keefe, Shiloh, Ill., 5,404, $5,200. 7, Missy Parkin, San Clemente, Calif., 5,391, $4,750. 8, Kerry Smith, Lititz, Pa., 5,388, $4,300. 9, Sandra Gongora, Mexico, 5,339, $4,100. 10, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 5,330, $4,000. 11, Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 5,324, $3,900. 12, Erin McCarthy, Elkhorn, Neb., 5,285, $3,800.
QUALIFYING ROUND 3
1, Breanna Clemmer, Clover, S.C., 4,321. 2, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 4,266. 3, Shannon O’Keefe, Shiloh, Ill., 4,161. 4, Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 4,158. 5, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 4,143. 6, Jordan Richard, Maumee, Ohio, 4,114.
7, Erin McCarthy, Elkhorn, Neb., 4,106. 8, Verity Crawley, England, 4,073. 9, Kerry Smith, Lititz, Pa., 4,070. 10, Sandra Gongora, Mexico, 4,063. 11, Bryanna Coté, Tucson, Ariz., 4,053.
12, Missy Parkin, San Clemente, Calif., 4,016.
DID NOT ADVANCE
13, Liz Kuhlkin, Schenectady, N.Y., 3,996, $3,700. 14, Stephanie Zavala, Downey, Calif., 3,985, $3,600. 15, Anna Groce (n) Morrisville, N.C., 3,974, $3,500. 16, Lindsay Boomershine, Brigham City, Utah, 3,968, $3,400. 17, Chelsey Klingler, Grand Rapids, Mich., 3,965, $3,250. 18, Liz Johnson, Niagara Falls, N.Y., 3,955, $3,000.
19, Rocio Restrepo, Uniontown, Ohio, 3,954, $2,850. 20, Julia Bond Aurora, Ill., 3,951, $2,600. 21, Tannya Roumimper, Indonesia 3,949, $2,400. 22, Gazmine Mason, Cranston, R.I., 3,924, $2,200. 23, Taylor Bailey Jonesboro, Ark., 3,922, $2,100. 24, Avery Domaguin (n) San Diego, 3,908, $2,000.
25, Lauren Pate, Ballwin, Mo., 3,906, $1,600. 26, Birgit Noreiks, Germany, 3,902, $1,550. 27, Ashly Galante, Palm Harbor, Fla., 3,878, $1,500. 28, Josie Barnes, Hermitage, Tenn., 3,875, $1,450. 29, Brianna Rogers (n) Florence, S.C., 3,851, $1,400. 30, Kara Mangiola Spencerport, NY 3,846, $1,350. 31, Maria José Rodriguez, Colombia 3,800, $1,300.
CLEMMER MAKES HISTORY, LEADS 2022 PWBA ST. PETERSBURG-CLEARWATER OPEN
SEMINOLE, Fla. – Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina, averaged more than 238 for 12 games Friday to take the lead at the 2022 Professional Women’s Bowling Association St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open and made history in the process at Seminole Lanes.
The 24-year-old right-hander fired games of 237, 190, 289, 300, 300 and 279 for a 1,595 six-game total during Round 2, which nearly broke the PWBA record for highest six-game block. Jackie Mitskavich set the record in Van Wert, Ohio, in 1997 with 1,630.
Clemmer had a chance to become the first woman to roll a 900 series but settled for 879 in her final three games, which was enough to set the PWBA record for highest three-game set. Mitskavich also held the three-game series record of 877 as part of her six-game record.
The United States Bowling Congress national record for highest three-game series by a woman is 890, which is held by two-time PWBA Tour champion Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York.
Clemmer began the second game of the evening with three consecutive splits, followed by a gutter and spare in the fourth frame. Despite not being comfortable, she managed to roll 190 after a helpful tip from her ball rep, Mike Wolfe, who simply encouraged her to “get the ball to two,” which meant the second board on the right side of the lane.
“Honestly, I was just trying to get nine and make my spares because I was throwing it so bad,” said Clemmer, who finished third at the season-opening PWBA Rockford Open. “I was not comfortable. It was very evident. When Mike said just throw it to two and settle in, I did just that and was able to get 190 out of it.”
Following the 190, Clemmer took every spectator inside Seminole Lanes, including her grandparents who were in attendance, on a ride they may never forget. The rest is history, as they say.
“I just felt so comfortable,” said Clemmer, who is a four-time member of Team USA. “When I’m able to just be Bre, and just do what I am known to do, everything else fades away and nothing else matters. And, that happened today. It’s like I had blinders on. Nothing else mattered, but me in that moment, and I was allowed to be selfish on the lanes in that moment. It was amazing. Everything just faded away, and I was able to just settle in and be myself.”
Clemmer added 1,271 in Round 1 for a 12-game total of 2,866, which moved her into the lead. Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova is second with a 2,817 total, and Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, is third with 2,764.
Erin McCarthy of Elkhorn, Nebraska, is fourth with 2,739, while Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, rounds out the top five with 2,722.
The 93-player field was cut to the top 31 players after Friday’s second round, with Kara Mangiola of Spencerport, New York, claiming the final spot with a 2,574 total, a 214.5 average.
Saturday’s third round will consist of an additional six games starting at 11 a.m. Eastern, with the top 12 returning to the lanes for one more six-game round to complete qualifying. The top five players, based on total pinfall for 24 games, will advance to the stepladder finals.
The stepladder will be Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern and broadcast live on CBS Sports Network. All qualifying rounds are being streamed live at BowlTV.com. The champion will earn $20,000.
For more information on the PWBA, visit PWBA.com.
2022 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open
At Seminole Lanes
1, Breanna Clemmer, Clover, S.C., 2,866. 2, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 2,817. 3, Shannon O’Keefe, Shiloh, Ill., 2,764. 4, Erin McCarthy, Elkhorn, Neb., 2,739. 5, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 2,722. 6, Liz Kuhlkin, Schenectady, N.Y., 2,700.
7(tie), Tannya Roumimper, Indonesia, and Kerry Smith, New Holland, Pa., 2,698. 9, Bryanna Coté, Tucson, Ariz., 2,678. 10, Rocio Restrepo, Uniontown, Ohio, 2,677. 11, Jordan Richard, Maumee, Ohio, 2,674. 12, Lauren Pate, Ballwin, Mo., 2,673.
13(tie), Julia Bond, Aurora, Ill., and Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 2,664. 15, Missy Parkin, San Clemente, Calif., 2,662. 16, Verity Crawley, England, 2,656. 17, Taylor Bailey, Jonesboro, Ark., 2,648. 18(tie), Gazmine Mason, Cranston, R.I., and Josie Barnes, Hermitage, Tenn., 2,636.
20, Chelsey Klingler, Grand Rapids, Mich., 2,633. 21, Sandra Gongora, Mexico, 2,622. 22, Brianna Rogers (n), Florence, S.C., 2,610. 23, Anna Groce (n), Morrisville, N.C., 2,609. 24(tie), Liz Johnson, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Ashly Galante, Palm Harbor, Fla., 2,605.
26, Avery Domaguin (n), San Diego, 2,601. 27, Lindsay Boomershine, Brigham City, Utah, 2,598. 28, Maria José Rodriguez, Colombia, 2,585. 29, Stephanie Zavala, Downey, Calif., 2,583. 30, Birgit Noreiks, Germany, 2,578. 31, Kara Mangiola, Spencerport, N.Y., 2,574.
DID NOT ADVANCE
32, Dasha Kovalova, Ukraine, 2,572. 33, Shalin Zulkifli, Malaysia, 2,566. 34, Estefania Cobo, Puerto Rico, 2,565. 35, Olivia Farwell, Elizabethtown, Pa., 2,519. 36, Taylor Bulthuis, New Port Richey, Fla., 2,512.
37, Jennifer Dovers (n), Sierra Vista, Ariz., 2,492. 38, Daria Pajak, Poland, 2,491. 39, Giselle Poss, Montgomery, Ill., 2,480. 40, Kaylene Bishop, Medical Lake, Wash., 2,479. 41, Felicia Wong, Canada, 2,476. 42, Brooke Roberts (n), Port Orange, Fla., 2,471.
43, Sydney Brummett, Fort Wayne, Ind., 2,470. 44, Kayla Crawford, Silvis, Ill., 2,463. 45, Brianna Andrew, Grand Rapids, Mich., 2,453. 46, Amber Brunson (n), Miami, 2,430. 47, Alexis Neuer, Milton, Pa., 2,426. 48(tie), Jennifer Roback (n), New York Mills, N.Y., and Maria Bulanova, Russia, 2,422.
50, Mallory Clark, Auburn, Maine, 2,421. 51, Jenna Williams (n), Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2,414. 52, Stefanie Johnson, McKinney, Texas, 2,409. 53, Melissa Kammerer, Staten Island, N.Y., 2,406. 54, Sarah Klassen (n), Bel Aire, Kan., 2,402.
55, Christina Hardee, Mount Dora, Fla., 2,369. 56, Stephanie Schwartz, Racine, Wis., 2,367. 57, Sarah Westcott (n), Riverview, Fla., 2,357. 58, Tanya Critchlow (n), Temple Terrace, Fla., 2,351. 59, Kaitlyn Eder (n), Lithia, Fla., 2,339. 60, Hayley Dann, Dayton, Ohio, 2,329.
61, Cassidy Ray (n), Herrin, Ill., 2,327. 62, Haley Richard, Tipton, Mich., 2,320. 63, Kasey Eaton (n), Wyoming, Mich., 2,315. 64, Jay Dawn Robinson (n), Lakeland, Fla., 2,303. 65(tie), Courtney Ermisch, Big Bend, Wis., and Alexandra Hernandez (n), Coral Springs, Fla., 2,295.
67, Melanie McDaniel, Joliet, Ill., 2,286. 68, Wendy Bartaire-Jimenez, France, 2,284. 69, Haley Youker, Clermont, Fla., 2,279. 70, Justyne Vukovich, New Stanton, Pa., 2,277. 71, Mei Yuan Miller (n), Millington, Tenn., 2,274. 72, Juliana Kerrigan (n), Ashland, Va., 2,273.
73, Courtney Jacques, Albany, Ga., 2,261. 74, Madison Colston (n), Largo, Fla., 2,260. 75, Katarina Hagler (n), Cape Coral, Fla., 2,259. 76, Melissa Riccardi (n), St. Petersburg, Fla., 2,251. 77, Elise Bolton, Merritt Island, Fla., 2,237. 78, Shaye Wiegers (n), Cooper City, Fla., 2,228.
79, Rhoda Rodriguez (n), Plantation, Fla., 2,212. 80, Danielle Young (n), Loves Park, Ill., 2,194. 81, Samantha Kriner, Houston, 2,187. 82, Ashley Morrow (n), Brandon, Fla., 2,145. 83, Samantha McCue (n), Cape Coral, Fla., 2,118. 84, Michaela Kontis (n), St. Augustine, Fla., 2,107.
85, Alison Shedrow (n), Parrish, Fla., 2,101. 86, Dakota Kirk (n), Fort Myers, Fla., 2,092. 87, Presley Gissendanner (n), Winter Haven, Fla., 2,079. 88, Madison Beck (n), Apopka, Fla., 2,035. 89, Vanessa Rivera (n), Orlando, Fla., 2,023. 90, Marquilla James (n), Cape Coral, Fla., 2,022.
91, Sophia Bastian (n), Winter Park, Fla., 1,986. 92, Carmen Aguilar, St. Petersburg, Fla., 1,967. 93, Jennifer Parisi (n), Casselberry, Fla., 1,855.
ZAVJALOVA LOOKS TO RETURN TO WINNING WAYS AT 2022 PWBA ST. PETERSBURG-CLEARWATER OPEN
By Emil Williams Jr.
SEMINOLE, Fla. – For the first time since 2018, the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour returns to Seminole Lanes for the 2022 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open.
The fourth event of the season runs from June 2-5, with the official practice session taking place Thursday, along with a Bowl with the Pros event. A total of 92 athletes will kick off competition Friday with two six-game qualifying rounds.
Athletes advancing to the Cashers’ Round will bowl an additional six-game block Saturday to determine the top 12 players. A final six-game round will determine the five players for the stepladder finals, based on total pinfall for 24 games.
The finals of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern, with the winner earning $20,000 live on CBS Sports Network.
All qualifying rounds leading up to the CBS Sports Network show will be broadcast live at BowlTV.com.
The last player to win at Seminole Lanes was Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova, who climbed the stepladder as the fifth seed to win her fourth career title in 2018.
It was a great day for Zavjalova, who had just celebrated her 27th birthday a few days prior, and she also shared the stage with her two friends, England’s Verity Crawley and Poland’s Daria Pajak. She opened with a 185-168 victory over Crawley, before downing Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, 226-172, and Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, 225-157. She met Pajak in the title match and claimed the victory with a 201-158 win.
Unbeknownst to her, and certainly not for a lack of trying, that victory was the last time Zavjalova hoisted a trophy. She’s made four championship-round appearances since her last victory, one in 2019 and three in 2021. In fact, she was the only player to advance to the finals of all three majors in 2021, which included the United States Bowling Congress Queens, U.S. Women’s Open and PWBA Tour Championship.
She keeps her last win at the forefront and often refers back to that day in August of 2018 as a reminder of what she is capable of on the lanes.
“That was the last time I won,” said Zavjalova, who helped Webber International win the 2012 Intercollegiate Team Championships. “So, a lot of times when I have struggled during the last couple of years, I’ve tried to remember the feeling of 2018 when I was on the show. It’s just a lot of good memories. I try to keep it in my head all the time and hopefully it can help me perform better.”
While the 30-year-old right-hander is often tweaking something in her physical game, it was her mental game she was most proud of during her last victory. She’s seen a significant change in that area and has been working to get her mental game back to where she feels it should be.
The disconnect can be traced directly back to 2020, which is a year many would like to forget. Count Zavjalova among them as she dealt with the isolation measures from the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancellation of the PWBA Tour and most importantly, the passing of her grandmother, Lidia More, which was unrelated to COVID.
“Back then my mental game was really good,” Zavjalova said. “But, since 2020 with COVID, and my grandma’s passing, a lot of things have happened. I’ve had depression and have been working with psychologists. The main difference is my mental game. I’ve been working really hard on it lately, and I feel like I’m getting closer to where I was. I’m still not there yet, but it’s slowly getting closer.”
To make matters worse, neither Zavjalova nor her family members could visit her grandmother due to the lockdown protocols in both the United States and Latvia. Zavjalova could not even travel to pay her respects at her grandmother’s funeral.
“It was very tough for the whole family,” Zavjalova said. “It was right as the lockdown happened, so nobody could go and see her even though the family was in Latvia. I was stuck in the U.S. and couldn’t go to the funeral. It was an awful time.”
Zavjalova has worked through the tough times with some help from her fiancé, EJ Nenichka, and her surrounding support system. He’s been a positive influence on her personally and professionally, especially at a time where she considered stepping away from the game.
“I met my now fiancé at a very, very difficult time in my life, and I’m super grateful to him for being by my side,” Zavjalova said. “Without him, I don’t know if I would be here. I considered going back home, and it was a very, very tough time. So, I would say EJ was the key to me getting back to somewhat normal. He’s been my rock and my light.”
As for the 2022 season, Zavjalova has cashed in the first three events of the season, although she suffered an injury to her right ring finger (on her bowling hand) after dropping a ball on it with 15 minutes left in the official practice session last week at the Twin Cities Open. As they say in Latvia, Zavjalova “bit her teeth” and grinded through the event like a warrior despite the pain and wondering how she was going to hold on to the ball in some cases. She finished 14th.
She’s looking forward to returning to Seminole Lanes this week with a better outlook for the rest of the 2022 season.
“So far, this season has been OK,” Zavjalova said. “I feel last year was worse because it was just a big roller coaster. I missed the cut in three straight events but made the TV show at all three majors. But so far, I’m three for three in making the cut. I’m a little disappointed with the Queens event, because I feel I could’ve done better. I finished (tied for) 13th, which is still OK. But, we still have a few events left, and I’m looking forward to Florida this week and the U.S. Women’s Open. Hopefully it’s going to go up from here.”
With the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open being the only stop in the state of Florida on the 2022 schedule, 33 players with Florida ties will gather at Seminole Lanes this week for a shot at the title.
Zavjalova, Crawley and Pajak were all national champions at Webber International, but Crawley and Pajak were teammates when the program won the 2016 Intercollegiate Team Championships.
Ashly Galante of Palm Harbor is a former Team USA member and two-time national champion at Pikeville (2008) and Webber International (2010). She is coming off an 18th-place finish last week at the Twin Cities Open. Taylor Bulthuis of New Port Richey is a PWBA Regional champion (Sarasota, 2020) and along with Crawley and Pajak, helped Webber to a national championship in 2016.
Other notable names include Sophia Bastian of Winter Park, Amanda Flood of Brandon, Christina Hardee of Mount Dora, Melissa Ricardi of St. Petersburg and Brooke Roberts of Port Orange.
The 2022 season features 12 events, including three majors, seven of which will conclude on CBS Sports Network, and an overall prize fund of approximately $1.4 million, which represents the largest average per event since the tour’s relaunch in 2015.
To learn more about the PWBA Tour, visit PWBA.com.
(all times Eastern)
Thursday, June 2
4 p.m.: Official practice session (90 minutes)
7 p.m.: Bowl with the Pros
Friday, June 3
10 a.m.: Qualifying – Round 1 (six games)
5 p.m.: Qualifying – Round 2 (six games)
Cut to cashers for Round 3
Saturday, June 4
10 a.m.: Qualifying – Round 3 (six games)
Cut to top 12 athletes for Round 4
4 p.m.: Qualifying – Round 4 (six games)
Cut to top five athletes for stepladder finals
Sunday, June 5
1 p.m.: Live CBS Sports Network Finals
About the PWBA
The Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) originally was formed in 1960. The PWBA Tour has events throughout the country, offering high-level competition and top prize money for women bowlers. The PWBA is supported by the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA) and the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).