Texas bowler has dream performance at USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Mark Sleeper Jr. of Rowlett, Texas, came into the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships with high expectations after a career-best performance at the National Bowling Stadium last year.

Although his initial goal was to be more consistent from event to event this time around, the 30-year-old right-hander could not be disappointed with his most recent effort, which included the 16th perfect game of this year's USBC Open Championships and the highest series of his 11-year tournament career.

Sleeper improved in each of his sets at the NBS this weekend and finished with games of 187, 300 and 266 for a 753 singles series. Louis Jenkins Jr. of Warr Acres, Okla., who also rolled a perfect game this year, leads Regular Singles with 826.

"I've shot a few 300s, and this one definitely is the most important," said Sleeper, who works in the bowling industry as a distribution center manager for Classic Products Corp. "When I got to the seventh one, I knew I had a pretty good look and a chance to finish it off. I had a little bit of room, so that relaxed me. I mostly tried not to think about it, though."

Heading into doubles and singles Saturday, Sleeper also made sure not to think too much about his team event, where he said he struggled to a 604 series.

"After I got done yesterday, I was a little disappointed, but I knew I had a new day and a new pattern, so I didn't worry too much about it," Sleeper said. "Of course, I wish I had the team event to do over again. I don't think I attacked it right, and I probably stayed with the wrong ball for too long. But, I felt good about today and everything turned out great."

Sleeper did his homework prior to leaving for Reno but got mixed reviews from friends who already had competed at the Open Championships. He also knew that the tournament lanes in Reno would play differently than during his practice sessions on the team pattern at his home house of Plano Super Bowl in Plano, Texas.

Bowling on the challenging condition did help him get sharp, and it also gave him a good starting point for when he got to the biggest stage in bowling. Additional ideas came from watching the live broadcasts from the tournament on BowlTV, and a session at the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC, also being held at the NBS, helped him make his final equipment changes.

"Some of the guys I talked to said I should use a lot of surface and play straighter, and others said to use shine and play in," Sleeper said. "I watched a lot of the live streams to see what to bring and look for, and I changed my surfaces quite a bit after bowling at the Bowlers Journal."

Sleeper added a 679 series in doubles for a 2,036 all-events total, just shy of last year's 2,044 effort.

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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.