Team USA headed to match play in doubles at 2021 IBF Masters World Championships in Dubai Article Image

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -
Debbie Ayers and Tracy Calfee live on different coasts of the United States and didn't know each other prior to being selected for Senior Team USA this year, but they're doing their best this week to make sure their names and paths forever are intertwined as part of the history of the International Bowling Federation Masters World Championships.

The two took a step in that direction Friday at the Dubai International Bowling Centre, where they navigated the event's 44-foot lane condition over 10 Baker games to earn their way into doubles match play.

They averaged nearly 190 and qualified in a tie for eighth place with a 1,887 total. Their teammates, Sharon Powers and Tish Johnson, also were among the 16 teams that advanced from the field of 31 doubles pairs.

Powers and Johnson were third with a 2,067 total, finishing behind Finland's Tuula Tamminen and Reija Linden (2,185) and Canada's Jill Friis and Lisa Morabito (2,100).

Friday's performance for Ayers and Calfee included a high game of 227 and a low game of 147, but they didn't let the peaks and valleys distract them from achieving their goals, which include learning as much as they can each day and simply remaining above the cutline when there's an opportunity to advance.

"I've learned a lot so far, and I'm sure I'm going to keep learning throughout the event," Calfee said. "I was pretty nervous yesterday, but I felt much better coming into today, and I definitely feel better now that we've bowled and were able to make the cut. I am going to use what I learn to help me get better each day and in each event."

The Senior Team USA men fared well Friday, too, cruising into the next round in first and third place. The men's field includes 35 doubles teams.

Bob Learn Parker Bohn doubles at 2021 IBF Masters World ChampionshipsBob Learn Jr. and Parker Bohn III opened with games of 257 and 254 and averaged 236.3 over the 10 games to lead the way with a 2,363 total.

They were followed by Norway's Tore Torgersen and Oyvind Haugen (2,265) and Team USA's Chris Barnes and Tom Hess (2,258).

It took a score of 1,765 to advance on the women's side and 2,008 for the men.

Doubles is the first event of the 2021 IBF Masters World Championships where the Baker format is being used, and it usually calls for more communication on the lanes.

That's something the Senior Team USA women have been working on since they were told they'd been selected to travel to Dubai.

The team met virtually to discuss how they each like to play the lanes, how they see and make moves, what equipment they were considering and more, including just the opportunity to talk and get to know one another.

Though Johnson is the lone left-hander on the women's team, the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer is the most experienced of the group.

She is a 25-time Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour titlist, has been to every Masters World Championships since the tournament debuted in 2013 and is well-versed when it comes to coaching and all matters of the pro shop.

Johnson lives in Colorado and has ties to California. She is familiar with Powers and Ayers, with whom she has bowled with, and against, for many years, so her advice and leadership are welcomed and invaluable. Powers lives in Colorado, and Ayers is from California.

"I've been bowling at this type of level for a long time, and Tish is someone I've bowled with or bowled against for many years," Ayers said. "She knows my game, and she knows Sharon's game, so she has been a great resource. I think the fact that we know each other, and now that we've had a chance to get to know Tracy, things are progressing well."

Johnson also has been able to look at ball motion and make suggestions for Calfee about which balls to use and what surface changes might work best.

Though the environment and level of competition are different than what Calfee is used to at home in North Carolina, she has been open to the suggestions.

"I put in for this opportunity and felt like I was ready for something like this after success in the North Carolina and South Carolina state events," Calfee said. "I was so happy to find out I was selected; I was in tears. This is my first opportunity to be at an event like this, and I feel very honored. These women are awesome competitors and mentors, and they really are helping me a lot."

Since making the 15-hour journey to Dubai, the teammates have worked together through their 90-minute practice session, five games of singles Thursday and the 10 rewarding games of doubles Friday.

They've also had time off the lanes to see the sights around Dubai, which has helped with the chemistry and rapport they already feel is strong.

The group will be back on the lanes Saturday for the continuation of singles. Squads will take place throughout the day. Through five games, all eight Team USA members are in position to make the first cut.

Doubles will resume Sunday, starting with match play.

The 16 advancing teams will be divided into four groups, each with four teams, and they will bowl three games of round-robin matches.

Points will awarded for each win in match play, and the top two teams in each group, based on points, will advance to the bracket-style quarterfinals.

Quarterfinal, semifinal and the final matches will be one Baker game each.

In the two-player format, one team member bowls the odd frames, and the other team member bowls the even frames. They were required to alternate throughout qualifying.

Two dozen countries are being represented at the 2021 IBF Masters World Championships, and they are competing across two age classifications - 50 and older and 65 and above. Team USA only is competing in the 50-and-older division.

Each country at the 2021 IBF Masters World Championships can have a maximum of four men and four women in each age classification.

The week in Dubai also will include team and mixed team competition. All team bowling will feature a modified Baker format, too.

The tournament is following a structure similar to what was used for the recent IBF Super World Championships, the first of the three events being held in Dubai this month. The inaugural IBF Para Bowling World Championships shared the spotlight.

IBF is providing livestream coverage and results at

This week, Team USA is looking to defend the men's singles, men's doubles and men's team titles, as well as doubles and team on the women's side.

The United States has swept the team gold medals for the last three editions of the event (2019, 2017, 2015).

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