McEwan leads qualifying at 2021 USBC Queens Article Image

RENO, Nev.
- Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, averaged more than 225 during qualifying at the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Queens to lead the field into the double-elimination bracket.

The five-time Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour champion posted a 1,138 five-game block Saturday at the National Bowling Stadium to finish qualifying with a 3,381 total for 15 games, a 225.4 average.

McEwan is followed in the standings by Rocio Restrepo of Uniontown, Ohio (3,364), Stephanie Zavala of Downey, California (3,346), Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York (3,346), and Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio (3,345).

The USBC Queens is the first major championship on the 2021 PWBA Tour schedule, and is providing wire-to-wire coverage of the event.

With qualifying complete, the top 63 players and Dasha Kovalova of Ukraine, who was guaranteed a spot in the double-elimination bracket as the defending champion, will return to the NBS on Sunday for match play.

Kovalova finished qualifying in 28th place with a 3,136 total and will face Kerry Smith of New Holland, Pennsylvania, in the opening round.

The final spot in the bracket went to Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina, who finished with a 15-game total of 3,001, a 200.07 average. Clemmer delivered three strikes in the 10th frame of her final game to get the last spot by a single pin over Alejandra Urrutia of Highland, California.

McEwan will face Clemmer in the first round of match play.

McEwan has been near the top of the leaderboard all week at the NBS, finishing Round 1 in third place and Round 2 in fourth place before moving into the lead Saturday.

The quick start Thursday allowed the 29-year-old right-hander the opportunity to collect information looking ahead to match play.

The three-game total-pinfall format moving into the bracket will allow for multiple angles to be in play and different strategies to be used by each opponent, and McEwan hopes to be one step ahead with the information she's gathered on this week's 42-foot oil pattern.

"I was looking at the long game this week," said McEwan, who finished third at the 2016 Queens. "I was focusing on gathering information and preparing myself for the end of the week. I've competed in enough of these events to know what I see on Day 1 won't be what it's like in match play. I focused on getting a lot of score the first day, which I was able to do, and build my arsenal from there for different situations. I want to make sure I know what ball I'll have to go to depending on what I'm seeing, so I can focus on my physical game and make sure I'm confident when I step up on the approach."

051521_RocioRestrepoRestrepo averaged more than 238 on Saturday to move up from 14th place, rolling games of 215, 254, 266, 221 and 236 to lead all competitors on the day with a 1,192 total.

The four-time PWBA Tour champion took a week off during the PWBA Lincoln Open to return home to work on some aspects of her game. She returned to the tour last week at the PWBA Greater Cleveland Open and finished in 18th place.

"I'm just excited to start feeling like myself again," Restrepo said. "I haven't felt like I've bowled well for almost eight months, and I took off a few weeks ago to focus on the stuff my reps have been telling me. The time at home has paid off. I built some momentum from last week in Cleveland, and I'm bringing that here as well."

Restrepo drilled some new equipment to help her see the shapes she wants to see on tour, and the physical changes she's implemented to her game not only have helped with her consistency, but also have provided some relief from a hip injury she's been competing through.

"I feel like my start has always been the key to my delivery, and I started to feel very uncomfortable from the moment I held the ball - it wasn't me," Restrepo said. "I focused on making sure my start was always the same and that my hand positions were correct, because a bad start means a bad finish.

"I've been dealing with a hip injury, and I've been taking it one week at a time. There have been times when I was in a lot of pain, but it seems like with the physical changes I've made, I'm not in as much pain. That's why I'm here. I feel like I'm strong enough, and I've dealt with worse."

Sunday's match-play round will begin at noon Eastern with the left side of the bracket, with the right side of the bracket getting underway at 2 p.m. Eastern. All matches prior to the stepladder finals will feature a three-game total-pinfall format.

Bracket play resumes Monday, with the top five athletes advancing to Tuesday's stepladder finals at 8 p.m. Eastern on BowlTV.

With the finals being broadcast on BowlTV, the top seed will have to be defeated twice in the true double-elimination format.

The champion at the 2021 Queens will take home the $20,000 first-place prize and tiara awarded to the winner.