Florida bowler reaches 60 years at 2014 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Clinton Zavakos of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., joined the 60-Year Club at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships on Thursday, becoming the 18th bowler in the 111-year history of the event to reach the milestone.

The 77-year-old right-hander made his tournament debut at the 1955 USBC Open Championships in Fort Wayne, Ind., and has not missed an event since.

"Tonight was very special," said Zavakos, who received a plaque, chevron and engraved money clip to commemorate the achievement. "I really was looking forward to this year. I was nervous all day. For some reason, I was tense and nervous, even going into the first game. I have never been that way in my life."

A recent injury left Zavakos with several broken ribs, but it didn't stop him from making his milestone march down Center Aisle at the National Bowling Stadium. He also celebrated 50 years on the championship lanes at the NBS in 2004.

Zavakos has had several close calls throughout his tournament career and always hoped to match his father, Tom, who was a team champion in 1932.

"We gave eagles away," Zavakos said. "In California, we needed a small 900 in the last game and finished with a high 800. We gave one away in Detroit. I think we finished second twice in Team All-Events. I would have loved to win an eagle like my father."

After rolling sets of 488 in team, 453 in doubles and 451 in singles for an all-events total of 1,392, Zavakos now finds himself on the cusp of another milestone. He sits just 941 pins away from joining the 100,000-Pin Club. Through 60 tournaments, he has maintained a 185.5 lifetime average.

Growing up in Indiana, Zavakos had the opportunity to get to know USBC Hall of Famer Bill Doehrman and Frank Carr, two of the 15 bowlers to eclipse 100,000 pins at the Open Championships. When Zavakos makes his 61st appearance in El Paso, Texas, he's looking forward to placing his name alongside theirs.

"That's my target," Zavakos said. "It'll be special to be in there with some of the people already there. When I was young, I knew Bill and Frank, and they were nice to me. I'm looking very forward to it."

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.